Debatables

Debatables: The Better Balloon!

Welcome to a special Thanksgiving-themed edition of Debatables!

My Sarah Josepha Hale bobblehead nods in approval.

For those of you not in the know, Debatables is a monthly column where odd and esoteric kid-lit questions are argued with perhaps a bit too much passion.

My sparring opponent is, as usual, Cricket Muse, whom I love like a sibling. And, just like a sibling, she knows how to get on my nerves.

Cricket is a teacher, reviewer, and a librarian at heart. She 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 her cow-centric manuscript, Udder Nonsense, will soon find a publisher. I am positive about this, too.

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).

This months topic:

Which children’s book character should be a Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon?

It’s a simple question with only one ground rule: Cricket and I could not choose a character that has flown in a previous parade.

Cricket chose Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.

I, on the other hand, chose Peter from The Snowy Day.

Aw. So cute.

So! Let’s begin:

 

Cricket’s Argument

He’s bouncy. He’s trouncy. He’s fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. He’s also the only one.

He’s very much the heart of the Hundred Acre Woods’ of the most excellent animal pals. He’s boisterous, irrepressible and he exudes enormous amounts of energy. A provider of levity, a chaser of gloominess, he exudes confidence, joy, and optimism.

I’m talking about Tigger. He’s joyfully carefree and his enthusiasm for life makes him positively buoyant. Tigger is unique, there are no other Tiggers about, a fact he expounds upon quite frequently, yet his dedicated observation of this fact is not tedious or vain; it actually promotes a yearning to celebrate this wonderful persona.

What better way to celebrate, to honor,this lovable bouncy character than by him becoming a Macy’s Parade Balloon.

He truly is the perfect candidate. As the song states:

Mike’s Argument

What the Thanksgiving Day Parade does not need is yet another Disney creation floating past 34th Street. Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Kermit (now owned by Disney), Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Olaf, and others from the House of Mouse have all had their turns down the parade route.

I think it’s high time for something different—a little less predictable and a lot less corporate. I propose an often overlooked but always beloved character: Peter, the main character from The Snowy Day.

Here’s why:

Multiculturalism: Diversity is sadly lacking in the Thanksgiving balloons. In the entire history of the parade, only one character of color has ever appeared in ballon form. And that character was… Little Bill, the animated creation of serial rapist Bill Cosby.

Geography: Peter is a city kid. Who else could be more deserving to soar over the Greatest City in the World!

Subject Matter: In addition to Thanksgiving, the parade—with its Rockettes, snow-covered floats, and Santa Claus—represents the beginning of winter. The Snowy Day is the quintessential picture book about winter.

Timing: Ezra Jack Keats won the Caldecott Award for The Snowy Day in 1963. 2018 would be the 55th anniversary of this achievement.

Design: That red onesie snowsuit with the pointy hood is adorable, iconic, and instantly recognizable.

Character: Peter is a good boy. He’s innocent, playful, and has wonderful imagination—able to find fun with little more than a stick. He represents the simple wonders of childhood, a personality perfectly suited for a family friendly parade.

For these reasons and more, Peter deserves a Thanksgiving Day Parade place of honor.

 

Cricket’s Rebuttal

While Mike strives to make a plea for Peter, his arguments melt like a snowman caught out in the sun.

For one: Tigger wasn’t originally a Disney character. He can’t help it that Disney recognizes that he makes a wonderful addition to a family of beloved characters.

Secondly: Tiggers have never been represented in the parade. Big oversight.

Thirdly: Tigger is a very fitting tribute for a city known for its non-stop energy.

As for celebrating winter! No thanks—Tigger represents the bounce of spring and the fun of summer. Cold snow? Isn’t happy frolicking in temperate weather more appealing? Peter is cute, but Tigger is sunshine happiness.

2018 marks Tigger’s 90th birthday—he deserves a fitting celebration. Tigger is his most happy bouncing about. No sticks required.

A vote for Tigger is a vote for the effervescent joy of rising above troubles.

 

Mike’s Rebuttal

You may want Tigger in the parade, Cricket, but, now more than ever, we need Peter in the parade.

In this sad era of emboldened racism, tribalism, and nationalism, Peter would serve as a gentle yet firm reminder that Americans come in all colors, from all walks of life, and from all points on the globe. This diversity is why America is great, and for that reason we should all be truly thankful.

 

***

 

And that’s the debate! Who do you think is more deserving of balloony honors?

Leave a comment below. Don’t be shy! Cricket and I love to hear your thoughts!

93 thoughts on “Debatables: The Better Balloon!”

  1. Wait—isn’t the parade supposed to be fun? It’s now a political platform for social injustice? C’mon, Mike. Let’s keep this uplifting. As your older “sister” I’m letting you know you should take a cue from Tigger and lighten up and get bouncing.

  2. Sorry Mike… again I have to be with Cricket on this one. 1. EVERYONE knows who Tigger is and he is fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! I love Tigger because we always called our daughter Tigger! She was the only one! LOL! 2. There shouldn’t be a “political statement” in the parade. Although I sympathize with your argument, Macy’s Tday parade is not the place for it.
    So.. my vote goes to Cricket once again! 😚

    ps I am posting this on both blogs! 😉

    1. But here’s the dealio. It isn’t political. The Snowy Day is a story about the wonder and joys of childhood.

      But the selection of Peter also corrects an oversight, providing representation where previously there was none.

      1. I agree it is a noble cause. However, I also believe there would be a great number of people who would not even know who he is. You assume ALL people know children’s books but alas…that is not true. It is a sad statement of affairs but the way it is. Therefore the balloon should be something everyone knows and loves 😉

      2. Tsk tsk, Courtney. So a balloon isn’t worthwhile if everyone doesn’t know it?

        Do you know Little Bill? Or Jimmy Neutron? Or Jet from Superwings? Or Skylander’s Eruptor? All of them were past balloons. And all of them were insignificant flashes in the pan. Peter, on the other hand has staying power. The Snowy Day has been continuously in print for 55 years! (My first PB dropped dead after a measly 6. Thanks, Albert Whitman & Co.!) Peter’s adventure is still being bought and read about today!

        And, lest we forget, the fine folks from the Today show give intros to each balloon, so it’s not like anyone watching TV will be sitting there staring at their screens saying “Huh? Who’s that guy?”

      3. All good arguments! It’s very cool that book is still in print after all these years. And you’re right, there have been balloons in the past that “grown ups” wouldn’t have known. So I will give you that.. and I like your perspective of what he would represent. But I still like Tigger better…sorry 😔

  3. I think I can finally back Mike on this one. Although, you may find my reasons a bit wishy washy. As a “Winnie The Pooh” fan (even though “Good Bye Christopher Robin” broke my heart and I will never look at Pooh in quite the same way) if there was a character that should represent I would have to choose Eeyore. Mike’s choice caught my attention with the red outfit. I confess I have no knowledge of the story (do not gasp Mike). I have no children. All of mine are rentals and this did not come across my path. I will stand by the bright red outfit being a real show stopper.

      1. You aren’t even aware how you malign Tigger with your attempts to garner votes? That’s a concern. And we all know what happens to snow once exposed to even the most innocent of interactions.

      2. Yeah, you would be surprised how many people will drop their kids off for you to entertain for a weekend if you let them know you are interested. I always give them back though. While I have them it usually costs me money so that makes them rentals. I don’t necessarily like the outfit. I just thought the colour was eye catching. I was desperate to support Mike for a change.

    1. I didn’t see “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” was already aware of the impact A. A. Milne’s story had on his son — unsurprising, really. I always wondered what on earth that man could have been thinking, not to change the name of the boy in the books to something else! Anyway, I was comforted to read this article about Christopher Robin, the real man, and to think that his life eventually became one of peace and happiness: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/i-knew-christopher-robin–the-real-christopher-robin/

  4. I do love Tigger, but I’m with Mike on this one. Enough with the Disney characters. Peter, from “The Snowy Day” could not be any more seasonally appropriate, plus his story is one of childhood joy. I completely agree with Mike’s point about the need for more diversity in the parade — parades are public events that are for everyone, all across the nation. It would be fabulous to show a bit of this country’s beautiful multiculturalism in the Thanksgiving Day parade. If Peter’s not as well-known as Tigger, then putting him in the parade would be a great way to bring this classic book to parents’ attention. Peter is perfect.

      1. Oh, Cricket, as a children’s book author, you know as well as anyone that books for children need to be for everyone. This is not a political stand, it is a small and overdue gesture toward inclusivity.

      2. Is a character of color automatically a political statement? Peter is not a political character. His story is not political. His race isn’t even acknowledged. Can such a character not be “enjoyed by all?”

      3. Now you’re slinging mud at me! What happened to your pure snow pleas? Will someone please vindicate Tigger? Will someone lob a snowball at Mike’s aspirations?

  5. Voting for Peter because of the historical significance–The Snowy Day was one of the first major children’s books to have a MC who was African-American, and who wasn’t a caricature. That’s huge. We really do need to celebrate stuff like that.

    (Plus, I just plain love Peter. <3)

  6. I agree with Mike, not because of my knowledge of the book or any political statement. The reason I agree with him is because extroverts are so overrepresented in our society, it is time to include introverts in a parade. Peter is playing alone amusing himself with a stick – an absolute celebration of the life of an introvert. Those of us who enjoy quiet, down time are exhausted at the idea of Tigger’s nonstop bouncing energy. Now, off to get the book The Snowy Day to read to my grandsons.

  7. Cricket gets my vote once again. Sometimes I think you want to lose, Mike. lol
    I have never read Snowy Day, you can gasp if you like, did not know who Peter was and I feel that would be the majority of parade viewers. Tigger is instantly recognizable and has the perfect attitude for a parade.
    He could make a parade out of a simple hike in the woods.
    Someone mentioned representation for introverts. It’s a parade. Introverts do not parade. I’m an introvert, but given enough caffeine, I can bounce with the Tigger for a while. You just don’t want to see me crash.
    As for the political statement, I agree with Cricket. Leave that out of the traditional parade. You did mention some political reasons for wanting Peter in the parade.
    Tigger is my choice!

      1. Okay, pish is a really good word. Points for that.
        No, I have not read The Snowy Day. A simple delight. You’re swaying me.
        But not to vote for The Snowy Day. Just to read it.

      1. Okay that did it.
        I will have to stop in to the Library and find it. But with it being so wildly popular, maybe it will be checked out. I certainly hope I don’t have to put my name on a waiting list for this. 😉

  8. Mike, once again you’re on the right side in one of these debates. I completely get the Tigger argument: colorful, bouncy, iconic, fun fun fun. But oh my goodness Peter wins by an avalanche. There is something so special about Peter’s quiet investigation of his neighborhood after the first snow, as hushed and reverent as it can feel for any of us when snow falls: the world is muffled and clean, bright and full of possibilities. And Keats captures all of that. I too adore the original Ernest Shepard illustrations of Tigger and company that adorn the Milne books, and of course find them to be vastly superior to the Disneyfication of Christopher Robin’s pals later on. To be clear I am a huge Disney-version Tigger fan: I own numerous sets of Winne-the-Pooh and friends Christmas ornaments, stuffed animals, and t-shirts, and even waited on line with small children for my turn to get a picture with Tigger on a recent trip to Disney World, a place I visit frequently. But none of that holds up to Peter, and it does bear repeating that he is the first child of color to be featured in a picture book, one that won an award for illustrations no less, and that is no small moment in America and the “murica” we sadly live in today.

    As Robert Fulghum once suggested, “be aware of wonder”. Peter helps us do that and more. All Tigger does is make us be aware of him…constantly, like an ADHD kid.

    Keats brings us back to that time of wonder, when we didn’t know what was out there, and that it was okay to go and find out. We are in the land of Harold and his Purple Crayon –another balloon nominee perhaps??– and it is an enchanted and important land worth revisiting, a land worth honoring with a balloon, and a land worth preserving most of all.

    1. Dang, Corey. I can always count on you to give a thoughtful, beautifully expressed opinion. (I think this even when you disagree with me, by the way.) I’m gonna be out of state on a writers fellowship in January; would you like to be my substitute?

  9. With all due respect to Cricket, and Tigger, I have to go with Mike and Peter here. The Snowy Day was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. And if it weren’t for that book I’d have no idea how to make snow angels. It’s a skill that has held me in good stead all these years. Although the people trying to pass me while I’m lying in the snow on the sidewalk would probably disagree.

    Also, Eeyore is my favorite character from Winnie the Pooh. If it was a choice between Peter and Eeyore, that would be a much tougher call for me.

    1. Ellen is a huge Eeyore fan, too. I always more closely identified with the cantankerous Rabbit.

      And what a wonderful reason to choose Peter! My older sister taught me how to snow angel, but when I later saw Peter doing the same thing in The Snowy Day, I felt a kind of kinship with him—a joyous “Hey, I do that too!”

  10. Maybe I cheated, don’t scold me nor gasp. I found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmZCQfeWjeQ while searching for Peter because ~ no, don’t gasp ~ I’d never read the story. Excuse? No children or rented children for that matter. Just me, a super cool husband, and some cats with a few zebra finches sprinkled here and there. I gotta vote for Peter. I love how he realizes it can’t run with the big boys yet and makes snow angels. His telling his mom about his day. His dreams. The hope of keeping snowballs alive. And who could resist the jammies? Peter has my vote. Hands down.

    1. I don’t gasp at people who do their homework! Nice job! And, of course, your reasons for selecting Peter are wonderful.

      This is why you and I (and Laurel) should make an effort to be neighbors someday. We see eye to eye on all things (sans salamanders).

  11. I was initially going to vote for Tigger. I mean who doesn’t love Tigger. Cricket has the energy and bounciness down and who can resist a tigger. But I’m also familiar with Pete, and he is a city kid and represents a small piece of the vast diversity in the country that is suffering from Trumpian horribleness. So… I’m making a political statement and giving the win to…. Mike. 🙂

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