A 2012 book in the popular Italian children’s series, Geronimo Stilton—a mouse and journalist at The Rodent’s Gazette whose exploits have spawned more than 100 books since 2000—apparently leaves Israel off the map. According to the Times of Israel, Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt: A Geronimo Stilton Adventure, in which Geronimo’s sister, Thea, goes on an archaeological adventure in Egypt and has to outsmart thieves in pursuit of a precious scarab, offers young readers its own, somewhat altered, version of the Middle East.
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.
The incongruous illustration was discovered by a mother who lives in Israel, while reading the book to her 7-year-old son. She told the Times of Israel, which reported the story yesterday.
Scholastic Inc., the publisher of the English version of the series, released a statement saying they’re stopping shipments on the book and fixing the illustration:
As you have probably heard, Thea Stilton and the Blue Scarab Hunt, a title in the Geronimo Stilton series, published by Scholastic, includes a map that inadvertently omits Israel. Scholastic is immediately stopping shipment on this title, revising the map, and going back to reprint. We regret the omission which was in the original version of the book published in Italy and was translated by our company for English language distribution.
Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.
So was it an innocent illustration oversight or pernicious political statement? It sounds like a case for Geronimo Stilton…
Update, November 15: A new map is available to download; reprints will begin “immediately.”
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.