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?!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!