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'Tango' tops library complaint list

August 29, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Not all penguin stories are equal in the public's mind.

"And Tango Makes Three," an award-winning children's book based on a true story about two male penguins who raised a baby penguin, topped the American Library Assn.'s annual list of works attracting the most complaints from parents, library patrons and others.

Overall, the number of "challenged" books in 2006 jumped to 546, more than 30% higher than the previous year's total, 405, although still low compared with the mid-1990s, when challenges topped 750.

"We're still in . . . the mid-range in terms of how many challenges we get," Judith Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, said during a recent interview.

"And Tango Makes Three," by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was published in 2005 and named by the ALA as one of the year's best children's books. But parents and educators have complained that "Tango Makes Three" advocates homosexuality, with challenges reported in Southwick, Mass., Shiloh, Ill., and elsewhere.

The ALA defines a "challenge" as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness." For every challenge listed, about four to five go unreported, according to the association. Krug said 30 books were banned last year.

"Books aren't banned nearly as much now as they used to be, because communities are much more active in fighting that," Krug said about the bans, which can lead to books being removed from school and public libraries.

Other books on the 2006 list include two by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, "The Bluest Eye" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Beloved," both cited for language and sexual content; Cecily von Ziegesar's popular "Gossip Girls" series, criticized for sexual content and language; and Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War," for language, violence and sexual content.

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