In my first review I explained that there were some books that I came across in my daily reading to my two children that caused me to think "what the?!?!?". Willy the Champ, written by Anthony Browne, is one such book.
Recommended by our local library to be suitable reading to two to three year olds Willy the Champ is a David versus Goliath tale. Willy, who at the start of the book is a 'wimp' because he is sensitive and non-athletic, is the victim of bullying and only becomes Willy the champ after a physical encounter with bully Buster Nose.
I took issue with the book on a few levels. In the first place Willy's depiction as a bookish nerd relies on a stereotype that feels dated - are book lovers the only victims of bullying? Secondly, Browne's resolution of the bullying with a physical stoush thus transforming Willy into a champ sits uncomfortably with me. Wasn't Willy already a champ just because he was true to himself?
However my greatest issue lies with the local library identifying this book as age appropriate for my two year old who at this time in his life is working on issues such as turn taking and sharing with his friends and peers and is innocent to ideas such as bullying. My son and I did read this book - but only the once. Master E. was not keen on a re-read and was very scared of Buster Nose but would it have been censorship on my part to not share this book with my son? I've always been opposed to censorship, but as a parent I feel such protectiveness that I am revisiting the issue with new perspectives.
Of course I do not think the Willy the Champ should be removed from public libraries. But it does raise questions about where censorship ends and protection of children begins.