Debatables: Killer Bears!

Hi all! Welcome to Debatables, a monthly column where odd and esoteric literary questions are argued with perhaps a bit too much passion.

My sparring opponent is, as usual, the inimitable yet relentlessly argumentative Cricket Muse. Teacher, reviewer, librarian at heart, Cricket began her writing career with Highlights for Children and earned the magazine’s Author of the Month honors for her first published story “Marvin Composes a Tea.” While she still publishes stories and articles, she is now focused on several book projects including a middle grade novel about the Idaho gold rush. She is also positive that somewhere out there a publisher is searching for a book filled with cow facts and fun; to put it another way, Cricket continues to send out her magnum opus, Udder Nonsense.

 If you don’t already follow Cricket’s blog, you totally should!

Here are the Debatables ground rules:

Each Debater is allowed one brief argument (fewer than 300 words) on a previously agreed-upon topic. These brief arguments will then be followed by a briefer rebuttal (fewer than 150 words).

Today’s Topic: Which Children’s Book Bear Team Would Win The Hunger Games?

I’ll let that one sink in for a little bit.

Just assume we’re in Panem and the ruthless Capitol decided to pit two bear teams against each other in The Arena to amuse the restless populace.

The first team is the dynamic duo of Paddington and  Pooh.

The other is the fearsome foursome, The Berenstain Bears.

Which team would win a fight to the death? 

I will be arguing on behalf of the Berenstains. Cricket has picked Paddington and Pooh.


Paddington and Pooh would snuff those Berenstains, or maybe that should read stuff those docile bears. They wouldn’t have a chance. The Berenstains are nice bears, as domesticated bears go. They teach manners, explore issues and values with consideration, present solutions, and live much like one big happy family—kind of like the Waltons of beardom. And this is the point. The Berenstains are so lovely, so sweet, so unused to adversity, at least on a life threatening scale, they wouldn’t even make it off the stand at the Games. They would be hor d’oeuvres for the other competitors.

Let’s look at the bare facts: Paddy and Pooh are winners from the get go:



  • native of the Peruvian jungle—lived in a hostile environment, had to cope with surviving on a daily basis
  • polite, charming, internationally known—will come in handy for gaining sponsors
  • innovative—MacGyver skills

Winnie the Pooh


  • lives in an expansive 500 acre woods—knows how to forage for food
  • many friends—helpful in garnering sponsors
  • clever—really, he is. His Pooh Sticks game is now a designated World Championship competition held in Oxfordshire
  • plucky—he rescued Piglet and Eeyore from the rapid floods
  • friends in high places—Pooh has met the Queen, Kenny Loggins wrote a song about him, and Pooh received a Walk of Fame star (people love to back a winner).
  • And this bear is ever ready—check out that expression of determination:

Paddy and Pooh—what can I say? They are skilled, resourceful bears who know how to endure. They know forests and jungles, they deal with animals, tigers no less.

The Berenstain Bears? These domesticated bruins shall get ruined. What skills do they possess? Settling sibling squabbles?

Looking to invest in a winning team for your parachutes? Go Team Paddy and Pooh. They are favored bears.


The Berenstain Bears are “docile?” “Sweet?” “Unused to adversity?!”


Papa Bear in training.

In my research (yes, I actually do research for this), I came across my old collection of Berenstain Bears books. In them, Papa Bear was slammed by a tidal wave, buried in garbage, hit by lightning, submerged in a frozen lake, and rolled down a ski slope (without skis). He was also attacked by wild animals including, but not limited to: wasps, snapping turtles, skunks, a bull, a crocodile and a whale. Long story short, Papa Bear is indestructible—and not dying is pretty much the object of The Hunger Games, isn’t it?

True, Papa Bear is an idiot, but this failing is more than offset by the stoic pragmatism of Mama Bear and the wise-beyond-their-years brilliance of Brother and Sister Bear. The Berenstain family possesses the athletic and intellectual capacity to survive any harsh environment the Capitol might dish out.

They even have experience with tracker jackers!

Cricket’s tributes, on the other hand, would be gone before they could reach the Cornucopia. Both Paddington and Pooh are small and slow and possess no practical fighting skills. And, forgive me for noticing, but they’re outnumbered.

Let’s also not forget that this is The Hunger Games. Pooh, once denied his steady stream of precious hunny, would face death by rumbly tumbly before the end of day one (provided, that is, he could somehow escape the Cornucopia’s bloodbath—and he wouldn’t).

Paddington, with his origins from “Darkest Peru” might fare better than Pooh. But Paddington is also a pacifist; when faced with conflict, he prefers “hard stares” over fisticuffs. And marmalade, Paddinton’s only food staple as far as I can tell, rarely shows itself in The Hunger Games Arena.

As adorable as both Paddington and Pooh are, neither would stand a chance against a Berenstain onslaught.

Cricket’s Rebuttal:

The Berenstains are suburb bears. They are soft from living with indoor plumbing. Papa Bear might survive his mishaps in the book because he’s the comic relief, but on the game grid? Trying to survive is no laughing matter. Mama Bear has her hands full keeping the family together, and it usually takes the Berenstains an entire 32 pages to solve their problems. Interpersonal dysfunction earns a sound trouncing, and a cannon splash in the sky.

Whereas, Paddy and Pooh are used to roughing it out from their jungle and forest days. Don’t be fooled by their meek demeanor. These two can take care of business.

Their penchant for marmalade and honey doesn’t mean they can’t adapt to other culinary offerings; they just have preferences is all. Two in number means they have each other’s back, and less worry. Nope, P&P are gonna be the last bears standing.

Mike’s Rebuttal:

You can’t argue that the Berenstains are soft without acknowledging that Paddington and Pooh are soooo much softer (literally and figuratively). These tiny, fluffy guys live a charmed, passive existence, utterly dependent on human guardians. The Berenstains have no such support system. They don’t need one; they depend on themselves.

And take a gander at those claws! (Thanks, Chelsea!)

Let’s face facts: The Berenstains are four; P&P are two. The Berenstains support themselves; P&P need the support of others. The Berenstains have a long history of enduring physical and intellectual challenges; P&P can make scary/cute faces.

Don’t get me wrong Cricket, it would be a terrible shame to see P&P perish. They are way too cute to perish! Know who else was too cute to perish? Rue from the original Hunger Games. But perish she did. And how.

Cuteness doesn’t count in The Arena, only the ability to survive.


And that’s the debate! Who do you agree with? Who argued his or her position better? Which literary character would you like to see dumped into The Hunger Games Arena? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

61 Replies to “Debatables: Killer Bears!”

      1. It takes a strange bear to wander around in a raincoat and no pants. And a Disney hat. I mean, a rain hat. Ahem.

  1. “lives in an expansive 500 acre woods—knows how to forage for food” <—That's the 100 acre wood where Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit and Roo live…..

    And I think the Berenstain Bears would bumble through it, knocking things over, throwing things out of the trunk behind themselves easily killing Pooh as he munched on his honey and Paddington while he searched for his Wellies……

      1. Oh, I don’t think I can!! They run around without pants on!! They won’t be THINKING about winning except with other bears of the female persuasion!! oh. my. Did I say that out loud?

    1. Now, Robin, it’s not about fandom. It’s not about who you would *root* for. It’s about who would WIN.

      Based on what you read above, are you reeeeally telling me that you think the widdle, cuddly, passive Pooh and Paddington would beat a family of four bears who have spent the better part of their lives enduring all kinds of violent acts? Really?

      You’re a lawyer. Look at the facts of the case presented.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Charles (even if your opinions are a bit misguided).

      True, both P&P have a “go with the flow” attitude, which is great if one wishes to live a balanced, zen-like life. But those qualities have little bearing on a death match. Remember, it’s four bears to two. And the Berenstains, do not depend on people to get them food or pull them out of rabbit holes.

      Do you really think those fluffy defenseless tiny, pudgy bears, neither of whom have ever endured violence of any kind, could not only survive The Arena, but also murder four other bears? Really?

      1. Mike, you have a misguided sense of who P&P really are. They are tough bears with a side of cuddle. Voters know this. Wait—is that a four bear cannon splash in the sky?

  2. I missed the point of the last debate & I’m probably missing the point on this one, too, but I’d put my money on Smokey the Bear. Smokey does not seem the type to suffer fools, plus he carries a shovel & understands how to use fire.

    1. You’re overthinking this, Tref. It’s a simple question, often asked in polite society: Which team of celebrity picture book bears would survive a death match? Nothing unusual.

      And to clarify, Smokey was not selected in the lottery. He was also too cowardly to volunteer as tribute.

  3. Paddington is resourceful and Pooh is wise. If you’re going by the silly movie versions, you have no idea what you’re up against, Team Berenstain. Pooh and Paddington both have that gift of appearing soft and bumbling, but leading charmed existences rooted in their depth of character. Also, the Berenstain Bears, sorry Mike, can be annoying and often just dumb. I would never, ever, ever, vote against Pooh. Put me down for Team P&P.

    1. Oh, Virginia. I feared you’d go the P&P route. Even when you do vote for my side, you do it with such reluctance and regret. You really do loathe me, don’t you.

      But personal fandom aside, let’s think this one through. Do you really believe that two widdle, slow, pudgy, passive, coddled, dependent bears would be able to fight a team of four bears (two of whom are adults) all of whom live in the woods and have a long track record of enduring all kinds of hardship and violence?

      I know it is terrible to think that the adorable P&P team would perish, but can you imagine a scenario where they wouldn’t?

    1. So darkness and fog is Paddington’s superpower? How will that keep him from getting ambushed by four bears?

      If Tigger was on P&P’s team I would say they’d have a shot, but I’m afraid the violent bouncy fellow is sidelined for this fight.

      1. It’s unlikely the Berenstain bears could actually land on the target they aimed for, but Paddington has his impermeable raincoat for just such improbabilities.

        Isn’t Paddington’s superpower earwax?

  4. I’m quite reluctant to join the conversation because by doing so I’m giving it credence. Your previous debates were on noteworthy, life-altering, relevant topics. The world needs to be warned against reading Love You Forever! This one does not quite measure up.

    And yet, it does share something with the previous debatables in that there is only one correct response: the clear answer is the Berenstain Bears. Would they be a little oafish throughout? Yup. Might they all not make it to the end of the Games? Certainly. But there are four of them –of various sizes let’s remember– to two lumbering bears who eventually think think think their way out of scraps, but the key word there is eventually. The BB would split up, divide and conquer, maybe even sacrifice one of their own for the team’s greater good. All the while, P&P are waiting for tea to be served. And even though B&B might win in single combat (provided they aren’t sticking to their opponents due to excessive honey and/or marmalade run-off) the Games need more cunning than they could ever muster on their own.

    Here is an idea for your next topic: the better rabbit journey, Velveteen’s or Edward Tulane’s?

    1. You’ve made Mike’s day with your vote. Tea? These tough bears are out solving problems or foraging for themselves. Mike has swayed the true representation of P&P’s fierceness.

  5. I’m so sorry, Cricketmuse, but I agree with Mike’s points.
    P&P: way too stuffed and slow
    BB: taller, stronger, more numerous, more feral.
    All those sibling fights have made Brother and Sister Bear hard.
    Also MIKE, you forgot one huge thing: the Berenstain Bears have claws. You can even see them. What does Pooh have? Stuff ‘n fluff?

      1. And who says P&P don’t have claws? They perhaps prefer to hide them until needed because their other skills are so obvious—just read the comments, Mike. People know.

      2. It was actually my first thought when I saw the Berenstain Bears.

        Also… turns out we have a “novel” starring the ol’ Papa/Mama/Brother/Sister clan in our children’s books here at my house. They get into even MORE shenanigans, proving themselves in challenges Pooh and his pal never dreamed of.

  6. Pooh and Padding like to please and would readily hand over their honey to avoid any conflict. They’d try to make everyone happy. After all Pooh likes sunsets and rainbows. The Berenstain Bears are clever, seasoned, know how to get out of tough spots and situations and work as a team. My bet is on the Berenstain Bears.

      1. Ahem. Still waiting for my equal air time with the claw shots I sent you, Mike. Oh, sorry I forgot you are too occupied harassing people who voted with sense and reason. Go P&P!

      2. Can’t find the email. I think it’s time to tally up the votes and wrap up this Debatable. Me and my bears will be waving from the winner’s circle.

  7. Hmmm. this is a tough one. Especially when you say that it isn’t who we would root for but who would actually win. I think I am going to have to go with Cricket again. Sorry Mike. I think that Pooh and Paddington are more resourceful and thinkers. They can (and have) survived the climates where the Berenstain bears are used to being indoors and taking it easy. The only reason they have survived this long is out of pure luck and bumbling by chance into the right place at the right time. 😉

  8. Geez Louise, Mike I wish I could side with you in one of these! I confess that the only thing I know about the Bernstein Bears is that they are collectable. Maybe that’s why there are so many of them. You almost had me for a bit but my loyalty has to side with Paddington & Pooh. It seems I picked Pooh in a previous debate as well and you didn’t . You really have a grudge against him. What did he ever do to you?

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