Visitor:
Activists + > Literature > Novels
St. John's store bans local author's anti-sealing children's book

St. John's store bans local author's anti-sealing children's book

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2007/11/28/book-sealing.html?ref=rss

November 28, 2007

CBC News

A Newfoundland and Labrador business won't sell a children's book by a St. John's author because it has an anti-sealing message.

Littleseal by Morgan Pumphrey tells the story of a harp seal and its first few weeks of life.

The president of Downhome Inc., Grant Young, has no qualms about the decision not to sell Littleseal through the company's website or St. John's store.

"We're pro-sealing and this is an anti-sealing book. Maybe some people could call it censorship, but we call it standing by our beliefs," he said.

"The book humanized seals and demonized sealers, and that's not in our interests as a company."

Downhome sells Newfoundland and Labrador products and crafts, including books from local authors.

Pumphrey said she'll try to sell her book on the mainland, starting with anti-sealing protest groups.

"I know an awful lot of people up there are against the seal hunt," she said.

Pumphrey said she wants to use profits from the book to work with the International Fund for Animal Welfare to encourage eco-tourism.
 


Thu. Nov 29 - 6:02 AM

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- A Newfoundland author claims she is being censored after the province's largest local book distributor refused to stock her children's book because of its critical portrayal of the seal hunt.

Littleseal, written by Morgan Pumphrey, tells the tale of a harp seal pup born on the ice floes off northern Newfoundland.

During the first three weeks of his life, Littleseal survives encounters with an ecotourist and a hungry polar bear, as well as separation from its mother. But he's killed after a "blinding, crunching, thud" at the hands of a seal hunter wielding a hakapik.

Pumphrey, a longtime opponent of the hunt, said she was disappointed but not surprised when the Downhome Shoppe and Gallery, a well-known store in downtown St. John's that sells locally made crafts and products, refused to carry her self-published book.

"The way I see it, going against the seal hunt is like going against the cod fishery in Newfoundland," Pumphrey said Wednesday in an interview. "It's a motherhood issue and I've got to expect 99.9 per cent of the population to be against me, and it looks like they are."

Downhome Inc. also serves as a distributor of local books to larger chains such as Chapters, and Pumphrey said the company's decision could bar her from selling the book elsewhere in the province.


N.L. store pulls children's book off shelves due to anti-seal hunt stance
November 28, 2007 - 3:07 pm

By: Tara Brautigam, THE CANADIAN PRESS

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A Newfoundland author claims she is being censored after the province's largest local book distributor refused to stock her children's book because of its critical portrayal of the seal hunt.

Littleseal, written by Morgan Pumphrey, tells the tale of a harp seal pup born on the ice floes off northern Newfoundland.

During the first three weeks of his life, Littleseal survives encounters with an ecotourist and a hungry polar bear, as well as separation from its mother. But he's killed after a "blinding, crunching, thud" at the hands of a seal hunter wielding a hakapik.

Pumphrey, a longtime opponent of the hunt, said she was disappointed but not surprised when the Downhome Shoppe and Gallery, a well-known store in downtown St. John's that sells locally made crafts and products, refused to carry her self-published book.

"The way I see it, going against the seal hunt is like going against the cod fishery in Newfoundland," Pumphrey said Wednesday in an interview.

"It's a motherhood issue and I've got to expect 99.9 per cent of the population to be against me, and it looks like they are."

Seal hunters and the federal government vigorously defend the hunt as sustainable, humane and a vital source of income for fishermen in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. But animal rights groups have just as vigorously called for the hunt to be banned, arguing it is cruel and provides little economic benefit.

Grant Young, president of parent company Downhome Inc., said Pumphrey's book was rejected because it wouldn't suit its customer base.

"The seal industry needs a few people on its side," said Young, who comes from a family of seal hunters.

"We don't call it censoring so much as making a decision. Do we want a product that fits our retail mandate and our company mandate?"

Young said the book was refused also due to an anticipated lack of demand.

"It's not going to be a powerful piece of literature that we're going to hold back from society," he said.

Downhome Inc. also serves as a distributor of local books to larger chains such as Chapters, and Pumphrey said the company's decision could bar her from selling the book elsewhere in the province.

But Pumphrey, 64, said she is considering promoting the book on the mainland because it would get a more positive reception there.

"I'm sure I'd get a warmer response because I believe most of Canada is against ... this spring bloodletting," she said.

"It's an unnecessary black mark in Canada."

Last year's seal hunt was one of the more uneventful in recent years because of poor ice conditions and a reduced harp seal quota from 335,000 to 270,000.

Protesters were relegated to observing the hunt from further distances than they have in the past because of a lack of ice in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. They were only able to watch the hunt aboard helicopters required to stay 150 metres away from sealing vessels.

Although hunters no longer kill the newborn whitecoats, the vast majority of seals killed in the hunt are between three and 12 weeks of age.

Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest marine mammal hunt in the world.


A Newfoundland business is refusing to sell a children's book that tells the life story of a seal as it is born, frolics on the ice and then is clubbed to death and skinned.

Downhome Inc., a book distributor with a store in St. John's, has rejected Littleseal by local author Morgan Pumphrey, citing its anti-sealing message.

"We're a company that is strong on Newfoundland culture and understands the seal fishery and what it has meant to us," said Grant Young, the company's president. "The seal fishery has had a bad reputation, and I think it needs a few supporters like ourselves."

Littleseal, which Ms. Pumphrey published herself, has 52 pages and few illustrations. The book's main character is a baby harp seal, which has encounters with polar bears and eco-tourists while contending with fierce weather conditions and being abandoned by its mother.

"It's just the normal trauma and adventures that a seal would have," Ms. Pumphrey said in a phone interview from her home in St. John's yesterday.

The pup is eventually killed and skinned by hunters but there is still a happy ending, according to the author.

"The seal dies but comes back in spirit and reunites with his mother. They get to go together across the great rainbow bridge," she said. "I like to say it's also a love story between a mother seal and her baby."

Ms. Pumphrey, who is also co-author of Who's Who in and from Newfoundland and Labrador, said she wrote Littleseal because too many people think of seals as a crop to harvest rather than living creatures.

"Newfoundlanders don't think of seals as an animal with thoughts or feelings-- it's like a fish with fur," she said. "So I decided to write about the thoughts and feelings of a seal. And, of course, getting into that mindset, I decided to aim the book at children."

She said she does not intend to vilify sealers in the book: "Well, you know, I hope they don't come across like that, because, yes, they are the killers but I'm sure they don't see themselves like that."

Mr. Young said the book goes too far in humanizing the creatures while "demonizing" seal hunters. "The seals have all sorts of thoughts I am pretty sure that baby seals don't have," he said. "It really, really throws the truth of the industry wonky. Reading a book like that to a little child would probably polarize them for life and they might not be open to the truth."

Without the support of Downhome's distribution network, Ms. Pumphrey said it will be difficult to sell her book outside of St. John's. The author said she had planned to donate the proceeds to conservation groups in Newfoundland.

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin, annxtberlin@gmail.com