Companhia das Letras collects a children’s book with children on a slave ship – 09/11/2021 – Illustrated

Companhia das Letras decided to withdraw the children’s book “Abecê da Liberdade: The Story of Luiz Gama, the Boy Who Broke Chains with Words” from circulation this Saturday (11).

The resolution was taken after the work was criticized. As a UOL report pointed out, some scenes portrayed in the book distort the reality of the black population during the period of slavery in Brazil.

Among them, the one that generated the most controversy was the trip on a slave ship, from Africa to America, where the lawyer and writer Luiz Gama, still small, appears playing in circles with other smiling children.

“I, Getulina and the other children were sad at (sic) at the beginning, but then we talked, then we started to play tag, hide and seek, slaves of Job (which is very funny, because we were slaves of We even jumped rope, or rather chain,” describes the narrator on page 27. “It didn’t even look like we were going to be bought by white people and work for them to death for free.”

“We deeply regret that this or any content published by the publisher has caused pain and/or embarrassment to readers or readers,” the publisher wrote in a press release. “We considered the review correct and timely, immediately triggered the process of collecting books from the market and stopped supplying our current inventory. This edition is now out of the market and will not be re-sold.”

At the time of publication of this report, it is still possible to find copies of “Abecê da Liberdade” for sale online at various retailers, both in physical and digital editions.

The book written by José Roberto Torero and Marcus Aurelius Pimenta, with illustrations by Edu Oliveira, was released in 2015 by the Alfaguara label from Editora Objetiva, and re-released by the Companhia das Letrinhas label in 2020, without changes.

“We assume our failure in the reprint process of the book, which was done automatically and without an internal rereading”, the note continues, “and we are in conversation with the authors for the necessary and extensive revision.”

​In the UOL report, Isabela Santiago, from the publisher’s children’s marketing division, stated that the title was not revised for this new impression, but after the criticism she informed that the book was in the process of internal re-reading, which would be passed on to the authors .

Torero told the portal that this is a work of fiction, with no “search for historical accuracy”. For him, scenes such as games on slave ships, imprecise from a realistic point of view, are justified because “irony is a way of working with pain”, and that it is in the nature of children to play even in so-called inappropriate situations, example of wakes.

“Maybe it would be easier to do something dramatic. But we resisted that temptation. A child is more complex than that,” said the writer, with whom this newspaper tried unsuccessfully.

Read below the full note released by Companhia das Letras: