Biggest children’s book publisher erases Israel from map

Jewish state absent from map in Egypt-based adventure book for kids published by Scholastic Inc., which promises to stop book’s shipment

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A detail from a map of the Middle East that appears in the book 'Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt,' published by Scholastic.
A detail from a map of the Middle East that appears in the book 'Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt,' published by Scholastic.

Arab textbooks are not the only ones erasing Israel from their maps. Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, has also eliminated the Jewish state in a book.

“Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt,” part of the popular Geronimo Stilton children’s series translated from Italian and published by Scholastic in 2012, tells the story of a group of investigative journalists involved in a treasure hunt in Egypt.

The story commences with a map of modern Egypt and its neighboring countries. While Sudan, Libya and Saudi Arabia appear clearly on the map, the territory of Israel is completely covered by Jordan, painted red. A line indicating the Israeli border with the Sinai Peninsula does appear in the book.

Adina Golombek, a Jerusalem resident who emigrated to Israel from Canada last year, said she was shocked to discover Israel’s absence while reading the book with her 7-year-old son.

“I wanted to show my son where we lived in the Middle East, but it didn’t say Israel on the map; instead it said Jordan,” Golombek told The Times of Israel. “I showed him the problem and drew in the border of where Israel is today.”

Founded in Pennsylvania in 1920, Scholastic has grown to become the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books through its book clubs, teaching resources and popular book fairs held inside many North American schools. The company has exclusive publishing rights for the Harry Potter series in the United States.

The cover of the 'Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt'
The cover of the ‘Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt’

Kyle Good, a senior vice president for corporate communications at Scholastic, told The Times of Israel in an email that her company would stop selling the book until the error was amended in the book’s next edition.

“The President of Trade Publishing who was on a plane yesterday returning from Europe has confirmed for me this morning that we are stopping shipments on this title, making the correction and going to reprint. We regret the error,” Good wrote.

A recent study carried out by Israeli and Palestinian researchers found that 96 percent of Palestinian school textbooks did not mention Israel by name in their maps. Similarly, 87 percent of Israeli school textbooks did not designate the Palestinian Territories by name.

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