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!

On Blogging, On Writing

A Purposeful Post

The young me and the noisiest typewriter on earth. Lordy, did I love it.
The young me and the noisiest typewriter on earth. Lordy, did I love that thing.

A couple weeks back, my blog pal, Harula, posted a writing exercise. The theme was “Purpose” and the idea was to complete the following four sentences with whatever spontaneous thoughts sprung to mind.

* When I was a child, I believed I was here to…

* As a teenager, I believed I was here to…

* As an adult, I believe I am here to…

* The most important thing life has taught me about why I’m here is…

I decided to give it a go. The answer to the first two prompts are below. I’ll post the next two soon:


When I was a child, I believed I was here to…

…become a “dinosaur expert.” I was fascinated by Stegosaurus and was rooting for the  poor devil in his Fantasia fight with Tyrannosaurs Rex. I loved Stegosaurus so much that at times I wanted to be a Stegosaurus. Is that odd?

I also was fascinated by the sheer size of Brontosaurus. He was as long as three city buses laid end to end! Dang! Who wouldn’t want to be a dinosaur expert?

Many years later that I learned that Stegosaurus was extinct by the time T-Rex appeared on the scene, making Fantasia scientifically inaccurate — despite what that egghead Deems Taylor would have you believe. Then I learned that Brontosauruses never existed at all. So The Flintstones? Lies. All lies.

I am still fascinated by dinosaurs today but now possess the self-awareness to understand that I am way too impatient to be a paleontologist.

By the way, my favorite dinosaur has since changed. I am now a fan of Triceratops. Especially the adorable and slightly derpy looking stuffed triceratops who sits on my son’s bed. This fellow has gone by many names over the years. When Alex was three, he called him Oscar Lotion. I have no idea why. Later the name changed to Susie, then Harold Lloyd, and now, simply Triceratops. I call him Oscar Lotion Susie Harold Lloyd Triceratops and pretend he is a prehistoric accountant.

No, Mr. Allegra. I'm afraid stuffed animal purchases are not deductible.
“Sorry, Mr. Allegra. I’m afraid stuffed animal purchases are not tax deductible.”

As a teenager, I believed I was here to…

…be an actor. At an early age I noticed that I had a sort of fearlessness in front of crowds and could quickly remember lines. I didn’t do much acting growing up, but what I did was intoxicating. My big high school break was when I played the voice of Audrey Two in our school’s presentation of Little Shop of Horrors. I wanted to be the sadistic dentist, Orin, but I was the only one in the school who could pull off that deep, Ron Taylor voice. In other words, my high school had way too many white people.

I was this guy.
I was this guy. It was awesome.

In college I lied my way into acting classes (Ha! Acting!). I soon recognized that I liked acting students much, much more than graphic design students. This was kind of a problem because graphic design was my major. Horrified by the idea of actually using this graphic design degree, I contemplated going to acting school. I auditioned for and got accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York before deciding that I have already accrued enough debt, thank you. Besides, I knew that deep down, acting was too uncertain and unstable a career for my personality.

This turned out to be a wise decision, for in tandem with my passion for acting, I had developed a passion for writing. A person can write and hold a steady day job. Four short years after I graduated from college, my day job switched from graphic design to writing. I got my start as a newspaper man and found the experience to be amazing. I wrote during the day for a salary and then wrote at night and on the weekends to draw a supplementary income. In other words, I became a very happy person.


And there you have it! Part two is coming soon.

When you were a kid what did you believe you were meant to do? Tell me in the comments below! C’mon, be a sport!