Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 23 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Pio of Pietrelcina
home iconNews
line break icon

The Time Christopher Robin Shot Winnie-the-Pooh with a Gun, and Other Censored Stories

Dolan Halbrook

Brantly Millegan - published on 02/06/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Guns, cannibalism, and ubiquitous death: they don’t write children’s stories like they used to - and that’s a bad thing.

With Winnie-the-Pooh dangling high in the air from a balloon after a failed attempt to obtain some honey, Christopher Robin lifts his gun, takes aim, and fires.

Ow!” said Pooh.

“Did I miss?” [Christopher Robin] asked.

“You didn’t exactly
miss,” said Pooh, “but you missed the

“I’m so sorry,” [he] said, and [he] fired again, and this time [he] hit the balloon.

Though he was apparently left unscathed by the gunshot, the ordeal left Pooh with other problems: “[H]is arms were so stiff from holding on to the string of the balloon all that time that they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off.” Why is this detail relevant? The narrator explains, “And I think – but I am not sure – that that is why he was always called Pooh.”

Ah yes, the heart-warming story of how the beloved bear got his name.

Not how you remember Winnie-the-Pooh? A more recent version published by Disney has bees pop the balloon and excises the gun and problem with his arms.

It’d be easy to point to Disney’s always smiling, flower throwing, magical rainbow gazing monstrosity and chalk it up to another big corporation destroying a classic, but after having read hundreds of children’s books over the last few years to my small children, it’s clear Disney is just a prominent player in a much wider trend to sanitize, censor, and to all-around-make-bland-and-boring our culture’s rich treasury of children’s stories.

And Death Was No More

The first time I read my young son the classic story The Three Little Pigs, it was from a scanned copy of a 1904 book courtesy of the Library of Congress’ fantastic website, (yes, the federal government is capable of making useful websites). It tells the story as I remembered it: The Wolf blows down the homes of the first two Pigs and eats them. He’s unable to blow down the brick house of the third Pig, and tries to enter the house through the chimney. The text is clear on what the third Pig does next:

“When the little Pig saw what he was about, he hung on a pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the Wolf was coming down, took off the cover of the pot, and in fell the Wolf. And the little Pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happily ever after.”

Opposite the text is a full-page, color illustration of the Wolf falling into the large pot surrounded by huge flames, and the third Pig smiling, ready with the lid.

My son loved the story and has frequently requested it since. But when I read him the same story from a recently published collection of children’s stories, there were some significant differences. First, upon having their homes blown down by the Wolf, the first two Pigs escape to the home of the third Pig, rather than get eaten by the Wolf. Second, the death of the Wolf in the boiling pot is left somewhat vague, and there is no mention of the Pigs eating him.

Other examples can be given: A newer version of The Gingerbread Man we picked up from the library has the Gingerbread Man escaping the Fox (rather than being eaten by him) and instead getting caught by a young boy who made a gingerbread house for the Gingerbread Man to live in. A recently published children’s story collection had a version of The Little Red Riding-Hood in which the grandmother hides in a closet from the Wolf, Little Red Riding-Hood is merely “seized” by the Wolf once she arrives, and the woodcutter who comes to their rescue only chases the Wolf away.

The common thread to all of these new versions? The removal of death.

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
Philip Kosloski
Pray this Psalm when you successfully recover from an illness
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Philip Kosloski
Why do some Eastern Catholics use spoons for Holy Communion?
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.