Speaking on the “Grand Jury” radio programme, Jean-François Copé, President of France’s opposition UMP party, produced a copy of Tous à poil! (Everybody naked!), by the author Claire Franek. “When I saw this, my heart missed a beat. It’s on the recommended reading list for primary school children. There’s a naked teacher, naked baby, naked babysitter, naked neighbors, naked granny, a naked dog… The role of UMP leadership is to say ‘enough is enough’”.

Mr Copé’s outburst has been condemned by publishers, authors, librarians and book stores, as well as by teachers, parents and rival politicians. Speaking on behalf of the Syndicat National de l’Edition (French Publishers Association), Flammarion’s Hélène Wadowski said that “books should not be used for political manoeuvring”.

“Publishers take their responsibilities seriously when choosing texts which invite readers to discover the pleasure of stories and which help them understand the world around them. Through books, children build judgment and learn to reason. Let’s trust them!”

Tous à poil is now riding high in the French bestsellers list as a result of Mr Copé’s outburst and the ensuing public debate.