Friday, October 2, 2009

Banned Books Week: Winnie the Pooh

When I was an infant my mother decorated my bedroom with a Winnie the Pooh theme. My oldest cousin is named after the little boy Christopher that's in the series. And to this day I own my very first Pooh-Bear. He is tucked away in a container that has all of my special childhood toys. Maybe one day I'll throw them out or maybe I'll give them to my children. Either way, Winnie the Pooh has been a comforting object and friend for my entire life.

Winnie the Pooh is listed at 22 on the top 100 most challenged or banned classic books list. Although I did not find direct sources as to the reasoning for Pooh's ban many sites said more or less the following:

Winnie the Pooh has made it on to a list of banned extremist material in Russia. As far as I can tell, here’s how it happened. Regional courts from all over Russia submit lists of symbols, objects and materials that have been associated with arrested extremists. These lists are compiled into a master list that is distributed to all Russian police who can then consult the list when investigating other crimes. If any of these items on the list are found when a crime is being investigated, then additional charges of extremism can be levied. The bear got onto the list when a resident in the city of Ufa was arrested on extremism charges in 2006 and amongst his possessions was Winnie the Pooh.

Excuse me while I laugh. Now, that's just silly. Winnie the Pooh is somehow tied to anti-Russian terrorists? What? Then again, if it wasn't for this the books could have been banned because they contain talking animals and as we learned from Charlotte's Web, talking animals are blasphemous.

The story is sweet and very loving. The narrator (author A.A. Milne) is telling little Christopher Robin (his son) about the adventures he had with his toy bear- Edward Bear- also known as Winnie the Pooh. Each chapter is a separate adventure and the series can be read out of order since none of the books plot lines flow from one book to the next. In this way, I think it would make a perfect bedtime story for little kids- to simply read one chapter and have a start to an end- then move onto another chapter the following night.

Pooh is joined by a list of characters such as Piglet (a toy pig), Eeyore (a toy donkey), Rabbit (a real live rabbit), and Owl (a real live owl). The other characters, such as Kanga, Roo, and Tigger arrive later in the books.

The stories were made into different cartoons and live action shows by Disney and became even more popular. They're happy little stories about a happy little bear and seeing it on the 'banned books list' just makes me laugh with disbelief. I mean... it's Winnie the Pooh!

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