28 September 2010

Banned Book Week: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.  ISBN: 9781416902065.

 I loved this book as a kid.  I loved it so much.  I still love it.  Who wouldn't love the idea of finding a special pebble that would grant you wishes?  And who wouldn't love the idea that once your misadventures are over you find that you don't need to make any wishes, because you have everything you want?

Pigs.  That's who.

Yeah, I'm calling you pigs, but not because you're police.  Because you're acting like pigs.  Who the hell gets upset over this (the one on the right)?

Apparently policemen in the 1970's across 11 states had giant bacon-induced coronaries over this particular picture.  They did not take into account that neighbors and other "people" in the book were depicted as pigs.  They just saw these two sympathetic looking porkers with a couple who have lost their child.  Maybe they should have paid more attention to the text above the piggy heads, "The police could not find their child."

Maybe they couldn't find the child because they were too busy trying to get a book banned because they were depicted as dirty, filthy, ignorant humans.  This kind of behavior from people who are supposed to protect us from crime bugs the hell out of me.  Especially since as a child, the pigs were the last thing I was focused on.  If you're worried about your reputation in literature, focus more on being a model citizen and a model policeman.  Protect the people you are supposed to serve to the best of your ability.  We know you're short on funds and overstaffed, and it's hard to take shit from the civilians, but you're supposed to be the best of us.  Act like it.

Banning books just makes we want to say two things: "oink, oink."

for representing the police as pigs.


  1. But what do you really think? I'm with you on this one. While I do think the police, and their supporters, have every right to object to insensitive depictions of themselves, and this was a very sore spot in the 1970's as i recall, there's not enough here to justify removal of this book.

    Sounds like an over-reaction to me.

  2. Oh, I agree that cops have the right to be upset about being called pigs, but I think it was a huge over reaction. I highly doubt that Steig had any intention of offending policemen.

  3. I've never read this book but I just hate it when something like this is taken wrong. Who the heck cares if the police are pictured as pigs? Especially when the entire book is made up of animals? Banning any book just makes the people trying to get them banned look stupid.

  4. Ha! I loved this article! Thank you.

  5. I owned a copy of this book as a child and loved it. When I learned about the controversy about the police officers shown as pigs, that shocked me. How on Earth does anyone draw that conclusion?!!


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