Guinea Pigs at Risk

Uncle Bobby's WeddingSometimes, I hate being right. It wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to foresee that the new storybook Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah Brannen, would be a target for the right.

I didn’t imagine they’d quote me while doing so, however. The conservative publication Town Hall just published the article “Librarians Against Censorship,” by Brent Bozell III. Bozell says:

Already we can predict how the ALA next year will complain about any objection to a book called “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” the story of a young guinea pig who worries that her Uncle Bobby won’t play with her anymore after he “marries” his boyfriend Jamie. The book ends at the “wedding,” with Chloe as the enthusiastic flower girl.

In my March 18 review of the book at Bay Windows (and published in a longer form at After Elton), I say:

It tells the sweet story of Chloe, an anthropomorphic young guinea pig who worries that Uncle Bobby won’t keep having fun with her after he marries his boyfriend Jamie. Uncle Bobby explains that their special times together will not end; Chloe will not be losing an uncle, but gaining one. The book ends at the wedding, with Chloe as the enthusiastic flower girl.

Hmm. See any resemblance? Well, if Bozell is going to take my words, I’m not going to provide a live link to his article. You can view it at:

www.townhall.com/Columnists/BrentBozellIII/2008/05/09/librarians_against_censorship

if you want to see it. He also rails against And Tango Makes Three and the American Library Association’s Rainbow List of LGBT-inclusive children’s and young adult books. (For an alternate perspective, see my interview with the chair of the Rainbow List project, Nel Ward.)

Yes, it is unfortunate that we must still deal with censorship and narrow minds. I say, if you don’t believe in the message of such books, make sure to stay involved with your children’s education so you can teach them otherwise. Be aware, though, that while you still may be able to censor books, it will be harder to censor the many children of LGBT parents who are talking about what they did with Mommy and Mama during summer vacation, or having their dads pick them up from soccer practice. Teaching about LGBT families is not about “promoting” some abstract “homosexual agenda.” It is about teaching children to respect their peers and develop into good citizens in today’s society.

I’ll close with a quote from Uncle Bobby’s editor at Putnam/Penguin, Tim Travaglini, who told me:

In a very aggressive way, I welcome [challenges to the book]. I sympathize with the folks on the front lines fighting that kind of censorship, but I’ll be happy with anything that draws attention to what I feel is a very unique, very special book, that really deserves to have the widest possible audience know about it, judge it for themselves, and hopefully fall in love with it the way we have.

Check your local libraries to see if they’re carrying Uncle Bobby’s Wedding yet. If not, ask how you can submit a request for them to stock it. (Some libraries may also have a way for patrons to purchase books as gifts to the library, if you’re feeling generous.) Let’s get it in as many places as we can before the storm really builds. I think I can speak for a good portion of the LGBT community and our allies when I say: Uncle Bobby, we’ve got your back.