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05 October 2007

Freedom to Read

There is an organisation called the Happy Endings Foundation's East of England Cheering Committee.

What do they do? (I hear you ask.) Do they reunite orphans with their long lost parents? Do they find Handsome Princes for Lowly Peasant Girls? Do they provide support and counselling for failed Idol participants?

No. This lady and all her lovely, caring friends are out there to make sure that kids don't get too upset by books with sad endings.

Oh (you say), that's nice. They talk about why the Snowman melted, and why the puppy had to go to the Big Doghouse in the Sky.

No. They just burn all the books with sad endings.

(they WHAT?)

They burn them. With fire. They call it a Bad Book Bonfire, and they have them quite often.

So the newspaper article says that Lemony Snicket is on the pyre. But I'm thinking you'd have to torch The House at Pooh Corner, Charlotte's Web and Bridge to Terabithia as well. And let's not even mention The Velveteen Rabbit.

Now seems like a REALLY good time to mention that it's Banned Books Week.

This weekend, read a Sad Book or a Bad Book or a Banned Book to celebrate your Freedom to Read...


mindlessmunkey said...

The poet Heinrich Heine said: Dort, wo man B├╝cher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.
(Where one begins by burning books, one will end up burning people.)

The Nazis showed that it was true, in the most terrible, literal sense.

When will people learn?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is in trouble...

But How about Curious Incident (spoiler ahead)? The boy seems so optimistic at the end - "I've been to the city on a train, now I'm going to uni, everything will be fine." But we know it won't. But he SAYS it will be, so it's a seemingly happy ending. So apparently that book won't get burnt, unless the reader actually, you know, READS it. Properly reads it, that is. Understands it.

See, the point is that books like Charlotte's Web have a sad ending, but an uplifting moral, to use a rather clunky term. So is it the ending that's an issue for these people, or the overall tenor of the book?


Anonymous said...

And another thing...

From the original article linked by Lili:

"Works that make the approved list include ... Enid Blyton's Famous Five series."

Yes, that's why children aren't reading anymore - clearly nowhere near enough diamond thieves and cat-burglars are being apprehended in railway tunnels by knickerbockered children.

"More ginger beer, Anne?"
"Oh, yes please, George!"
"Oh gosh and darn it, Dick, Timmy's gone and eaten all the corned beef sandwiches! Mother will be cross!"
"That's all right - Nurse will make some more."

Pah - it makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs with a spoon.

jonathan said...

Got me fired up, but on closer inspection I think it's a joke.

Davey P said...

It is a joke -- it's a viral marketing site set up by ArtScience, an ad agency who've created web sites to promote "Lemony Snicket".