“We like to hop,
We like to hop on top of Pop,
You must not hop, on top of Pop."
Innocent words? Or a call for paternal violence?
If you ask one Toronto Public Library patron, the Dr. Seuss classic Hop on Pop should not have a place on library shelves. The complainant requested that the book be pulled from the library system because it encourages violence against fathers—and demanded an apology be issued to all fathers across the Greater Toronto Area.
The library decided to keep the children’s favourite on their shelves, noting that the book does not, in fact, encourage kids to hop on Pop.
The Dr. Seuss classic was just one of the five books that were recently challenged by readers—there were also requests to remove a DVD (a movie with Adam Sandler) and an audiobook. The Toronto Public Library released a report listing the removal requests and their responses to each. In a system of 18.5 million users, there were only seven requests calling for the banning of specific books—a number I find rather heartening. Of course it's ridiculous that anyone would want to pull the harmless Hop on Pop. But Theodore Geisel wasn’t the only target.
A complaint was issued against poet Dennis Lee’s book Lizzy’s Lion, a picture book where a girl’s pet lion eats a burglar. I have to admit I haven’t read this one, however I'm familiar with the Alligator Pie authors' strange plotlines (“in Winnipeg, I’ll eat your leg.”) The library argued that Lizzy's Lion is empowering and not gruesome, and they ruled to leave it on their shelves.
As silly as the whole situation is (see the full chart of complaints and responses here), I'm glad that the Toronto Public Library goes through the exercise of researching each complaint and responding in kind. Even though the complainants may not be fans of free speech, differing opinions or stories outside of their comfort zone—the library is, and has to be.
Read more: Kids' books we love 2014 >
And now Hop on Pop can join other esteemed titles such as Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird as classics that come under fire as inappropriate reading. One of the most challenged books in recent years is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which made headlines in Idaho. The book became notorious when the police were called because a teen gave away 350 copies, after the school board (with parents’ approval) banned the book for anti-Christian and sexual content. Seems that some parents weren’t too happy that the pupil crowd-funded the purchase of the books to give to students, who had signed the petition to keep the book.
For now, Hop on Pop is safe and any incidents involving rhyming and violence cannot be blamed on Dr. Seuss and his fellow ribald group of kids book authors.
Recipe: Green eggs and ham >