A council sent a debt collection letter to a six-year-old girl who failed to return a 2002 Sindy annual to her school library, it has emerged.
Breagh Hannan is a fan of the popular children's doll Sindy
Breagh Hannan, from Stirlingshire, borrowed the book from a mobile library which visited her school in April.
But the primary two pupil at Killearn Primary forgot to take it home before the school closed for summer.
The child burst into tears when her parents told her about the letter. Stirling Council has since apologised.
The letter, addressed to Breagh and her mother Gillian, read: "This is your final notice to return the items listed below: Sindy Annual 2002.
"If the matter is not resolved within the next week the information will be passed to the sheriff's officer for action."
Breagh's parents Arthur Hannan, 61, and Gillian Hannan, 49, had not been informed their daughter had borrowed a book and demanded an apology from the city's library services.
Mrs Hannan said: "We knew that the mobile library went to the school as we live in a remote area and have no access to a library, but nobody told us Breagh had taken a book out.
"When we received the letter we were really angry. We couldn't believe they were threatening a little girl with debt collectors for forgetting to return a Sindy annual.
"Breagh was upset. She saw me open the letter and said 'sorry mummy but I don't know where the book is'.
"She thought she was in terrible trouble."
She added: "The first we heard was when the council threatened to send the sheriff's officers round.
"It's ridiculous to be taking that level of action against a six-year-old girl who has not returned a book.
"I would like an apology from Stirling Council."
Mr Hannan said he had written to the council immediately, fearing the move could affect the family's credit rating.
He said: "If sheriff's officers became involved we may have been refused a loan in the future and it is a nightmare getting that sorted again - all because of a Sindy annual."
Stirling Council officials have since issued an apology and admitted Breagh may have been mistaken for a criminal.
A spokeswoman said: "We can only apologise to this little girl and her family for the distress this has caused.
"There are people out there who join the library service so that they can make off with books, CDs and DVDs.
"This case has clearly been an accident."
The spokeswoman added: "The normal notification process for non-returned books is a letter after three weeks, then another after six weeks and finally contact by telephone after nine weeks.
"Action by sheriff's officers is used as a last resort and it very rarely comes to this stage.
"The notification process has obviously failed on this occasion and we regret the distress caused."