The Big Red Scare

Can you tell I liked Clifford as a kid?

Can you tell I liked Clifford as a kid?

As some of you may know, today is the 50th birthday of a very famous literary figure: Clifford the Big Red Dog. There was a big birthday celebration for him with hundreds of children in floppy ears and elementary schools all over the country live-streamed it. What you may not know is that Clifford the Big Red Dog is a banned book.

The reason? According to NPR, Clifford the Big Red Dog is banned for “idealizing Communism.” I guess because he’s red and the underdog? In the books’ defense (although why such a ridiculous claim needs a defense is just sad), apparently the vibrant red color was an accident. The illustrator just happened to be next to a big ol’ can o’ red paint and went with it.

I’m afraid this won’t be a full review, but I wanted to give Clifford his day. See, as a very, very tiny child (At age 6 I was 3’2″ and 30 lbs, which is about the size of a small dog. I didn’t hit 50 lbs until the 4th grade.), I found the story of an itty-bitty runt of the litter who went on to become a big, famous pillar of the community, sometimes more literally than others, very inspiring. Nobody expected Clifford to make it through the winter, let alone help firefighters and serve as a clean energy public transit. Which is really quite dark for a children’s book when you think about it. I love when children’s books are dark. Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t magically grow up to be bigger than a house, but maybe one day I could be something big and important and beloved too.

The point is, this is a sweet, simple story for pre-schoolers. Banning it is beyond ridiculous. Clifford is not a Big Red Dog as a subliminal metaphor that brainwashes kids into becoming communists, even if the puppies in Animal Farm grew up to be the KGB. Children’s books are just vibrantly colored, usually with primary colors. Hell, the Republican Party’s elephant is pretty red. Maybe he’s a communist too. Besides, just have your kids watch 20th Century Fox’s Anastasia and it’ll even them right out. That movie legitimately IS anti-communist propaganda. And, oh, how I love it anyway.

Happy Birthday, Clifford! Don’t let the haters get you down.

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About boundandgaggedbooks

Shannon is a freelance writer and folklore buff. She has a degree from Hampshire College in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion, with an emphasis on epic/oral traditions, their anthropological implications, and their modern counterparts. Her work can be found in Fabulously Feminist, Wolf Wariors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology, The Concord Monitor, Redhead Magazine, and The Climax.

6 responses to “The Big Red Scare”

  1. Kaysie says :

    I love, love, love your blog!!!

  2. bandaloopdeloop says :

    The titles just write themselves: Clifford Rallies the Proletariat, Clifford Abolishes Private Property, Clifford Conveniently Forgets That Part In The Communist Manifesto That Talks About The Withering Away of the State…

    Next they’re going to prove that President Obama read Clifford as a child.

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