Just another Banned Books post

Why Can't I Read This?

Image by Pesky Library via Flickr

IT really is astounding how much a day can veer off course, no matter how well you plan for all contingencies. For a long, long time I’ve been promising myself that I will be posting about four times a week, to catch up on the long list of books that I have read as part of my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, while also taking off into any pleasant digressions that may occur. Alas, I’ve allowed real life and its various demands to sweep me away. And yes, my own laziness is also to blame.

But some things, fortunately, do go off as planned. Ever since I found out about ‘Banned Books Week’, I’ve been longing to part of the global discussion that takes place each year from September 26 to October 1. But to be part of that discussion, I would of course have to read a Banned Book which, you’ll be surprised to know, I haven’t done so far. I mean, I have read Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but the ban on these books was lifted long ago. What I should be reading, of course, are books that continue to be banned, especially in India, which has a long, inglorious history of such literary persecution (Salman Rushdie‘s The Satanic Verses and Hamish McDonald’s The Polyester Prince, are examples that spring to mind).

We’ve all debated ad nauseum about the narrow-mindedness that prompts people and governments to decide what everyone should be reading. We’ve all laughed at the anti-satanists who have preached Holy War against the Harry Potter series and have wondered aloud at the imbecility that prompted the withdrawal of Such a Long Journey from the Mumbai University syllabus. The wonderful, whimsical worlds that these works of fiction (and non-fiction) open up to us seem to hold no magic for moralists and political opportunists, and more than outrageous, it is just a tragic state of affairs. And just how tragic it is can be illustrated by the wicked, delightful little poem below, which was sought to banned from libraries by parents who claimed it encouraged disobedience, or even that it was too morbid. This is how I add my two-bit to the global discussion. Enjoy!

Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony

by Sheldon Allen Silverstein

There was a girl named Abigail
Who was taking a drive
Through the country
With her parents
When she spied a beautiful sad-eyed
Grey and white pony.
And next to it was a sign
That said,
FOR SALE—CHEAP.
“Oh,” said Abigail,
“May I have that pony?
May I please?”
And her parents said,
“No you may not.”
And Abigail said,
“But I MUST have that pony.”
And her parents said,
“Well, you can have a nice butter pecan
Ice cream cone when we get home.”
And Abigail said,
“I don’t want a butter pecan
Ice cream cone,
I WANT THAT PONY—
I MUST HAVE THAT PONY.”
And her parents said,
“Be quiet and stop nagging—
You’re not getting that pony.”
And Abigail began to cry and said,
“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die.”
And her parents said, “You won’t die.
No child ever died yet from not getting a pony.”
And Abigail felt so bad
That when she got home she went to bed,
And she couldn’t eat,
And she couldn’t sleep,
And her heart was broken,
And she DID die—
All because of a pony
That her parents wouldn’t buy.

 

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6 thoughts on “Just another Banned Books post

  1. SheWrites sister here… Maybe next year I will be “up” with banned books week. I am behind on everything this year – talk like a pirate day, banned books… though I can see why parents maybe wouldn’t have wanted to read that poem to their stubborn little pony-craving daughters. Love SS though.

    • Hi Beverly, thanks for dropping by! Usually I miss these events too, but since I started devoting more time to my blog, I’ve been looking for topics to write about and luckily, it happened to be Banned Books Week. I was also looking for interesting poetry and read some SS (I love him too!), and thought the history of this particular poem was very interesting in the context of the Week. I suppose I understand WHY parents would object to this poem, but apparently kids themselves look on it as a humorous piece.

  2. Thanks for the mention of my blog post on Banned Book Week – and for sharing that marvelous Shel Silverstein! Kids have to have the chance to explore their world – and reading is such an inspirational way to do that, IMHO! 🙂
    Laura/Readerwoman

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