The Happy Endings Foundation Wants to Ban Childrens' Books With Sad Endings

Posted on October 8, 2007

Readers were up in arms yelling 'censorhip' over this article in The Daily Mail about the Happy Endings Foundation's campaign to ban all books for children which don't have happy endings.

The Happy Ending Foundation is planning a series of Bad Book Bonfires for later this month, when parents will be encouraged to burn novels with negative endings. The foundation has also written to school librarians across the country to coincide with Children's Book Week, which began on Monday, urging them to take ' controversial' books off shelves. Last night critics of the group said children needed a healthy balance in their reading. Others said the book burnings were a sinister reminder of similar events in Nazi Germany.

Among the stories on the foundation's blacklist are best-sellers such as A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and Marcus Pfister's Milo and the Magical Stones. Works that make the approved list include Raymond Brigg's The Snowman and Enid Blyton's Famous Five series. The Snowman appears to have a sad ending because he melts, leaving the boy he has befriended alone. But the foundation claims it ends positively because the boy is contented, having the snowman's scarf to remember him by. Adrienne Small founded the organisation when her ten-year-old daughter became depressed and withdrawn after reading the first book in the Lemony Snicket series.

But a careful examination of The Happy Ending Foundation's website (no longer live) reveals some oddities. After reading a page of passionate ranting about children's books that should be banned, one comes to The Disclaimer at the end of the page. Clicking on that link reveals the following text:
Disclaimer: Most characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living, dead, or half dead, is purely coincidental. None of the non-fictitious people, places or things named in this website were harmed during the creation of the site. We're not sure if the Loch Ness monster is fictitious or non-fictitious, you decide.

We would like to state that some of the books recommended on this site are very good reads, particularly Winnie-the-Pooh. However, we would NOT recommend monster hunting at Loch Ness as a happy day out because a) it rains a lot in north Scotland and b) as previously stated, we don't know if there is actually a monster to hunt. However, if you like logs then Loch Ness is a fine place to go log hunting.

That's right -- the whole thing is a hoax. It's a clever viral marketing campaign to get people to buy more Lemony Snicket books -- which all have notoriously bad endings. Or no ending at all, in on particular case we can think of. We were certainly ready to leap on our soapbox and expound at length about the dangers of censorship, when we realized we were being had by a clever marketing firm which owns the domain name of the website. Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, well, you get the idea.

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