Happy endings

This week, I found a wonderful website that is dedicated to the belief that sad books are bad books and that childrens’ books should only have happy endings.

The website, at thehappyendingsfoundation.org [Site not existant. 15/1/2011. Ed.], is apparently operated by The Happy Endings Foundation (THEF,) which was founded by Adrienne Small after reading a Lemony Snicket Unfortunate Events book to her daughter. The depressing tone of the story apparently had a negative effect on Adrienne and on her daughter, especially after she went on to read all the books in the series.

The site declares that Small has abandoned her career in the tax office to concentrate on furthering the aims of THEF by rewriting the Lemony Snicket stories and giving them happy endings. In the meantime, visitors to the site are presented with a list of books with suitably happy endings including Pollyanna and Famous Five.

A notice declares that THEF has decided not to suggest that the way forward is by burning bad books and another invites readers to voice their concerns to people owning copies of the Lemony Snicket DVD and, if necessary, to hide the disc where the owner is ‘unlikely to find it for sometime’.

Site visitors are invited to share their happiest moments and Jane Tanner had this to say: “My happiest moment was when I woke up all snuggly in my bed – it was a very sunny day and my cat looked at me as if to say ‘The world is a beautiful place and you are a beautiful happy person without a care in the world.’ I cried I was so happy.”

THEF has been featured in a number of newspapers and on the BBC and has been the cause of a lot of comment in childrens’ book circles and in those opposed to burning books. A lot of comment, and it took a blogger (www.inkygirl.com) to find out that THEF is a marketing ploy by the publishers of the Lemony Snicket books (egmont.co.uk).

The tongue in cheek is pretty obvious when you know the secret of the site but I reckon it would have fooled me if I hadn’t already known. I’d have figured that people who were whacko enough to have a webcam focused on a gerbil cage, would be whacko enough to want to rewrite books with sad endings.

In any case, I have a sneaking feeling that they’re right about sad books, but that’s from someone who avoided James Hadley Chase because, sometimes, the hero died. And that’s not even counting the case of post traumatic stress disorder I acquired when I read the story where Modesty Blaise dies.

There have been a few dark mutterings about the mean-swine publishers and publicity relations people who dreamt up THEF, but I have to admit to being heartily amused. Let it serve as a lesson to us not to blindly believe everything we read.

If you’re wondering about the gerbils, they are the activists Lionel and Gertrude, who allegedly help THEF by shredding sad books.

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