Friday, October 3, 2008

A Thin Argument

First a bulletin board - and now the law is pressing down on poor Flat Stanley. There’s a dispute between the Trust of late author Jeff Brown, creator of the Flat Stanley books, and Canadian teacher Dale Hubert, founder of the non-profit Flat Stanley Project.

I love the premise of Flat Stanley. A boy gets flattened by a bulletin board and discovers the advantages of traveling by mail. It’s a great example of suspension of disbelief. When Stanley’s mother finds her flattened son she suggests they visit the doctor – but first they head downstairs for breakfast!

I also enjoy the award-winning Flat Stanley Project, in which grade school students get a lesson in correspondence by mailing a Flat Stanley paper-doll (not a copy of the original drawing) in search of adventure. The effort was supported by both the author and publisher of the books, crediting it with renewed sales of the books. Now the late author’s Trust wants to take over Hubert’s web domain, which features personal adventures and success stories. They want to use the site to promote a musical based on Hubert's idea of mailing Flat Stanley around the world. To make things stickier Hubert, prompted by his lawyer, applied for a trademark of the name.

As a second grader my son participated in this project. We sent Stanley to Grandma’s house, knowing the task was a perfect match for her wit and creativity. Here’s an excerpt from her memoirs with the Flat One, on their flight from New York City:

Flat Stanley was getting a bit bored on the plane. He got all excited when dinner came. (Grandma and Grampa didn’t share his enthusiasm!) Flat Stanley ate most of the turkey sandwich, a few carrot sticks and the brownie. He gave Grampa the potato chips.

Our own Flat Stanley continued on to Mexico and Spain, and even inspired my son’s teacher to travel to Barcelona. It’s a shame an effort that has helped promote goodwill throughout the world would be entangled in an intellectual property dispute. I hope a decision that benefits both parties can be reached in no time flat.

Learn more about the debate here and here.


C.R. Evers said...

LOL! Your'e flat-out funny! ;0)


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You are right, flat out. I love what grandma wrote, btw. She sounds quite clever and brilliant!

LW said...

Poor flat Stanley...

I think the teacher promoted this book and should be thanked, not harassed. I find it so hard to believe that their can just take away his website...

thanks for the links and information..


adrienne said...

Christy - The subject is a bit humorous :)

Green Girl - Thanks, you are quite right about my mom. She passed away a little more than a year ago and I treasure the products of her creativity!

Louise - I agree. The issue of intellectual property is a touchy one, but Hubert never sought monetary gain.

Saucy said...

How sad for Stanley. We never even knew him.

Our Brownie group had a pair of dolls called Mary-Kate and Ashley (ugh) and they came home with the girls for a whole week that had to be journaled. For Brownies! Of course we forgot/put it off/neglected it until the night before.

So this is what I came up with: Daughter wrote in Mary-Kate's journal that we had a party and Mary-Kate was dancing on a coffee table and fell off the first night she was with us. I made a little foam cast for her leg and we signed it. I fashioned a sling and put a bandaid on her face. NOW she is looking very Mary-Kate and Ashley, if you ask me! We send her back to Brownies and daughter reads the story aloud to a dazed group of girls... they are stunned/mortified/intrigued.

We do not return to Brownies, ever.

We really aren't bad people and we don't have parties. I just didn't like that activity. I think Stanley would have been a better fit for us.

Kim Kasch said...

My children, now adults, were all caregivers of Flat Stanley - for a while. I'd forgotten all about him. It's sad to think he's embroiled, just like Palin and Biden, in a debate.


adrienne said...

Saucy - Now that's creative! I'm glad it wasn't the Spears sisters you had to take care of :-O

Kim - Hey, how 'bout Flat Stanley for VP!

Rena said...

Oh, how sad about the issues. We love Flat Stanley. We read it last year in school. In fact, a friend of mine who's a big Wiggles fan, made a Flat Jeffrey (purple Wiggle) and sent it all over the world. We took Flat Jeffrey all over Montana and even over to Disneyworld. It's a great project. I hope they can resolve their issues.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

We enjoyed many visits with Flat Stanley when we lived in France, and even sent him on his way ourselves once we moved back. It was fun--and a great learning experience. That's too bad about the lawsuit. What a world we live in!

Carrie Harris said...

I hadn't heard of this before, but you can bet son and I will be checking it out. And how sad that we might not have the opportunity to do so for much longer!

adrienne said...

Becky - No doubt it was a favorite destination when you were in France! How fun.

Carrie - I hope it continues. I would think the success of the books and musical depends on the success of the project.