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Are Penguins Really That Subversive?

512GipBF4qL._SL160_In recognition of Banned Books Week, the Los Angeles Times published a list of the top 10 most-challenged books of 2009 and the highly acclaimed children’s book And Tango Makes Three garnered a spot near the top of the list, yet again. Authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell tell the touching true story of two male penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo who nurture an adopted egg and hatch their little daughter Tango. This picture book, aimed at preschool–2nd grade age children has oft been maligned as promoting a gay agenda, which is the reason for the challenges. In an age where “family values” are constantly decried, it is disappointing that some would want to deprive children of an uplifting story about a loving family because of outdated prejudices.

Several young adult novels made the top 10 list, including The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. Both titles were challenged for having sexually explicit content and offensive language. In support of intellectual freedom, Random House’s SUVUDU blog is featuring banned or challenged books throughout the week, several of which are children’s or young adult books. The site highlights The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, a fantasy novel about a young magician’s apprentice named Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, the powerful djin he summons, which has been banned from some middle schools due to charges it deals with the occult (à la Harry Potter). Also highlighted is The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, the first installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy that centers on orphan Lyra Belacqua, who runs afoul of the organization called the Church while searching for her missing best friend. This book has faced much criticism and numerous challenges for the way organized religion (aka Christianity) is portrayed. Addressing the criticism and those who call for a ban, Pullman is quoted as saying, “It’s not the presence of Christian doctrine I object to so much as the absence of Christian virtue.”

  1. Joy L.
    September 29th, 2010 at 15:15 | #1

    Ridiculous! “And Tango Makes Three” is a true story. I don’t understand how anyone who says they promote family values would oppose a true story of a loving family. So they are penguins…a family is a family!

  2. September 29th, 2010 at 15:47 | #2

    @Joy L.
    Yes, it is truly disturbing that an ignorant few feel entitled to police what the rest of us can and cannot read.

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