Josh Berk’s Book Supports Animal Cruelty: Urgent Petition

UPDATE: If you think this post is for real, make sure you read this one next. 😉

I’ve got a beef with fellow YA author, Josh Berk, and readers, I need your help.

Some of you know that I’m vegetarian. That means I don’t eat any meat, chicken, or fish1, and I don’t support the cruel practices of factory farms and most other modern food production facilities. It’s not something I generally evangelize, because to me, eating is like religion and sexual orientation and lots of other things that should be grouped into the broad category of “don’t you worry ’bout what I be doin’.” But when I see something that so blatantly sets out to mock and endorse cruelty and torture, I have to step in.

I recently learned that the current title of Josh Berk’s debut novel—the one I’d heard and believed was a temporary placeholder—is in fact the real title. And that makes me see blood red! Josh Berk, to whom I just presented the Zombie Chicken Award for his humorous blogs, supports animal abuse with his pro-murder debut title, THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN!

Dark Days, Mr. Berk? Do you have any idea what the life of an average beef cow is like? Hint: dark! So dark that I can’t even write about the atrocities a little cow endures without flashing a big fat RATED R for extreme violence and graphic content. There are plenty of other online sources to learn about such horrors that I don’t need to recount them here, but I will share this note, from

Like all animals, cows form strong maternal bonds with their children, and on dairy farms and cattle ranches, mother cows can be heard crying out for their calves for days after they are separated.

By including HAMBURGER in your book title as if it’s some kind of funny little inside joke, you’re supporting the heartless ripping away of precious babies from their crying mothers. Are you really that cruel?

Josh Berk, from one young adult author to another—no, from one compassionate being to another—I implore you in this very public space known as, the great democratizer among Ted-lovers and those who write stories about kids and teens, to renounce the book title that reeks of torture like so much non-irradiated meat gone rancid.

Reject murder and embrace a new, cruelty-free, non-animal-tested title…


I realize that you’ve put many hours into writing, selling, and promoting your book in advance of its upcoming release under its former unenlightened title, but those hours are nothing compared to the hours of suffering a single beef cow endures on its pathetic path from cute, cuddly calf to greasy, steaming hamburger. Tortured and killed to put unhealthy food on our plates.

The book isn’t even out yet. The cover hasn’t been finalized, there aren’t any fan posters or Facebook flare buttons or press-on tattoos of this Hamburger Halpin character. A title change would require minimal effort. Minimal effort, for invaluable karmic returns and a little pro-veggie awareness, too.


Josh Berk Responds: I’m No Meathead

I sent my thoughts to Mr. Berk through our mutual agent, wanting to go about things the correct way before publicly lambasting him. To my surprise, he responded immediately:

Sarah, as much as I wanted to write off your comments as extremist, honestly, you’re not the first to contact me about this, and I truly don’t want to be insensitive to your feelings or to the plight of animals. So I’ve decided that if the readers feel so strongly about it, I will try to change the title, if it’s possible (no promises, as we’re getting closer to the release date). Before I approach my agent and publisher, I’d like to get a sense for the general reader reactions…

General reader reactions! That’s us, people. So… with Mr. Berk’s permission, I’m asking you to leave a comment here if you’d like him to consider a title change. I’ll send him the responses and see if we can make a difference. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m just glad he’s listening! He said he’d try!

Ok, I know this sounds a little batty, seriously. But I’m not telling anyone not to eat meat. That’s your choice. I’m just asking that Mr. Berk remove the reference from his book, because hamburgers (and how they become hamburgers) aren’t funny at all, and I don’t think it’s cool to be promoting it like it’s some kind of joke that 50 million cows are abused and slaughtered every year.

Thanks for your support, guys. And thanks for your willingness to hear us out, Berk. YA authors are the best!

UPDATE: If you think this post is for real, make sure you read this one next. 😉

1. We aren’t talking about the thankfully short-lived tuna melt bender of 2008.

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24 thoughts on “Josh Berk’s Book Supports Animal Cruelty: Urgent Petition

  1. isn’t berking some sort of medieval torture? shouldn’t he change his name to Josh Hug? Or Josh Kittenface?

    • Kittenface! Yes! As long as no kittens are harmed in the changing of Josh’s name.

  2. Sarah: Glass houses and all… Shall we review the title of your book? 20 Boy Summer. I urge you to change this title on behalf of boys everywhere. The exploitation of “boys” in our society should give you nightmares at night. I would hope that your character wasn’t really on the prowl for 20 boys, but rather young men. But in the end, 20 Young Men Summer just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

    • Ohh, no, young men sounds rather creepy! The character really does go after boys – she’s 16 after all.

      Hehe April Fools!

      • I mean, April Fools on the Veggieburger Halpin post, not on the boys. 🙂

  3. You object to the use of the word “hamburger” in the title of the book? Really? Suggest you go to Amazon and enter “beef” in the search bar. Do you object to those books? Or to anything with “meat” in the title? Claiming that Mr Berk “supports animal cruelty” is really making a pretty giant leap.

    BTW, just curious…do you wear leather at all? Or drive a car? I hope not.

    Come on. Get a grip.

    • I have a leather car that I drive to my job at the glue factory, does that count?

  4. I feel that to be fair to everyone, the book should just be named DAYS. Although, this does discriminate against those who work third shift. Maybe Josh could just call it “A Novel”.

  5. I think “work of fiction.” The novel is a patriarchal form, and in any case a misnomer. Does anybody think a four-hundred-year-old form is really “novel” anymore? No, I think “A Binded Sheaf of Printed Paper” is a better title, though that happens to be the working title of my own work in progress.

    I take more exception to Berk’s first name, “Josh,” which implies that he’s not taking himself, or his binded sheafs of printed paper, very seriously. Given the state of the world and the economy, I think it’s time to stop “Joshin'” and get real, Mr. Kittenface.

  6. I think that the person who wrote the book should be able to pick their title and if someone wants to buy it, then they will. If they don’t want to buy it, they won’t – I don’t think that anyone should be telling an author what to call his / her book.

    • Roger, no one will judge you for buying Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

  7. I would like to object to all books everywhere on behalf of the trees. The poor innocent trees are just minding their own business and *poof*– someone chops them down and pulverizes them.. for what? books. it’s just rude.

    • Totally rude! I think we should print books on pieces of cake. Then when you’re done reading them, you eat them! Yay! 🙂

  8. OMG! This is perhaps one of the funniest and pathetic things (original objection & posts) I have ever read!!! I can NOT believe that a fellow writer seriously objects to freedom of speech and want to restrict someone by asking them to change the title of their book. I surely hope this is a publicity tactic.

  9. Shame on you, Sarah Ockler. This is wrong. How could you start a petition against a fellow author, one whose DEBUT novel isn’t even on the shelves yet? This is a crude and unprofessional fear tactic, one I am deeply disgusted with. As a fellow author, you should know better. You know how hard it is to get a novel published. You know the work involved, the dedication to writing, the rejection, and the joy of acceptance. This author worked just as hard to get his book published as you. To publicly tear someone down, just because his views differ from yours: that is too horrid and shameful for words.

    I will not be buying your books, ever. You’ve just lost a potential fan.

    • I just want everyone to know that Caroline and I talked offline and now we understand each other. She’s going to stop eating meat, and I’m going to start yelling at kids to get off my lawn and turn off that loud music!

      🙂 No, seriously, me and Caroline are *like this* now!

  10. Omg you were not kidding when you said people were getting riled up about this! And I thought no way could anyone take this seriously… I must watch what I say on my blog from now on! 🙂

  11. Pingback: TBS Countdown: Sarah Ockler Interview « ten cent notes

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