Subscribe to The Horn Book

>When Frog and Toad are more than friends.

>Battle joined once again in Lexington, where an outraged parent–honestly, those words are becoming as yoked as disgruntled employee–is complaining about the reading of King and King in her seven-year-old son’s classroom. I guess I misread the zeitgeist when I reviewed the book, saying “the whole thing is so good-natured that only the most determined ideologue will be able to take offense.” Lexington school superintendent Paul Ash is my hero, saying “Lexington is committed to teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal.”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >The mother’s chief complaint is that the school is “intentionally presenting [same sex marriages] as a norm” and therefore indoctrinating her 7-year old child.

    I think the thing to do here is come up with a list of every book, TV show, video game and movie the parents have allowed this “poor” child to read/play/watch. If any one of them conveys values that their family doesn’t support (violence, maybe? divorce? single parenthood?), then that constitutes tacit approval for exposing the child to other values they don’t support. Right? And I’m betting that there’s at least one book they read that has a lot of “non-normal” family values in it: the Bible.

    Can you say murder, sodomy, genocide, fratricide, masturbation and single motherhood? Sure you can!

  2. little brother says:

    >In the local newcast that had some str8 activist (you know the type: trying to convert everyone to their practice of having intercourse with someone of the OPPOSITE(!) gender) who referenced the Massachusetts law that parents must be previously notified of sex education in the class. His argument that as homosexuality is by nature sexuality then it is in the category of sex education and any references to it must be previously cleared with parents.

    So, does this mean they will finally notify parents when they are going to read aloud the story of that trashy girl who runs away from home to live with a group of unmarried men until she is kissed by a total (albeit charming) heteroSEXual stranger with whom she immediately rides away, presumably – but not necessarily – for marriage? Snow White is such a tramp.

  3. webshred says:

    >Plus, let’s not forget the whole necrophilia angle in “Snow White.” I mean, come on–she’s in a glass coffin, for goodness sake!

  4. rindambyers says:

    >Sigh…re-read for Thyself the Old Testament…beforest thou speakest, please…let’s not insult everyone’s intelligence here with Biblical ignorance: Just take, for example, Hagar’s story. Here’s a single mom with a son with a father who does not want the child, a child and mother who are being very unfairly treated by Abraham and his official wife, Sarah. It was Abraham’s decision to make a son with Hagar, not God’s (very likely, she had little say over the matter). The actual story makes all of this abundantly clear–particularly Abraham’s insensitivity and weakness in not standing up for his first son. It’s why God stepped into the story…to care for Hagar and to protect and care for and bless her son. It’s a story of great and tender mercy and grace and love–on God’s part–for that single mother and her unwanted child. Want another good story with real Biblical values? Try wrestlign through the “values” in the story of Rahab, the non-Isralite prostitute…..

    I dislike engaging in debates over issues when people involved in the debate clearly haven’t read the original work in the first place–as is so clearly apparent in the remarks about the Bible above. Read first. Then speak. Carefully.

    I’d just like to point out, ironically somewhat, as well, that, as a former preschool teacher, I have observed time and time again that little boys tend to prefer to play with little boys; it’s the rare little boy who prefers to have a little girl for a best friend that sometimes gets teased and shamed in class–unless the teacher steps in to stop it. Perhaps we forget that at these younger ages, marriage of any sort is rather a strange, er um grownup, and usually very uninteresting sort of territory to the world of childhood,excpet of course when a child sees other adults shame his/her own family situation, his or her parents, caregivers, guardians, foster parents, etc. I rather gathered from Roger’s reivew that he understands this. As a teacher, it was always my policy to treat each child’s caregivers with courtesy and respect, even the rotten ones whom I strongly suspected but could not prove abused their children at home, remembering always, if you publically demean and mock the child’s caregivers, the child’s family, you create shame for that child about himself or hereslf as well. Bottom Line: In my classes,in my world, we don’t shame. We don’t tease. We don’t mock. Indeed, the Bible says that in Psalms 1: “Don’t sit in the mocker’s seat.” There’s a value for you…

  5. >King & King caused a bit of hubbub at my school for a while, when it was chosen by librarians and students as a candidate for an award here, but I’m happy to say our community rallied around supporting it. We had overwhelmingly more level-headed and thoughtful parents than outraged ones. Would that were true everywhere.

  6. >I found your blog yesterday right before I saw the news at 11 about this “controversy”.

    Did you not think the mom seemed a little ignorant. Like maybe she thinks every house should have a mom, a dad, a son, and a daughter. Let’s get real lady, we live in New England, different is the norm!

  7. Andy Laties says:

    >The title of your post, referencing Frog & Toad, reminds me of the sexual orientation of those books’ author.

    And — of plenty of children’s authors. That is: this woman and her family very likely have read a number of books written by gay men — and, they do not KNOW that they love these objectionable men’s work!

    Of course, Frog & Toad could just as easily be Bert & Ernie, or, Oscar & Felix, or, Laurel & Hardy, or, Abbott & Costello — or, Vladimir & Estragon — or — any “White Face & Red Nose” duo of “comedians”. There’s half of your Dead White Men canon of Western Culture.

    Anyway, someone should tell her to censor Bert & Ernie to start with.

  8. >To Rindambyers,

    Not to get into a debate of Biblical proportions with you (since it’s obvious, being the Biblical ignoramus I seem to be, that I would lose), but last I looked at the Old and New Testaments, all of the things I listed above could be found–many of them in spades. Is there a new translation out that I should know about?

    Of course, a reader COULD take my comments to mean that I am an avowed (but ignorant) Bible-basher who claims (through ignorance) that the Old Testament is nothing more than a giant manifesto for murder, sodomy, genocide, fratricide, masturbation and single motherhood. But that reader would have to: a) make so many assumptions about me based on so little information that he/she could get a job as a WMD analyst for the Bush administration; and b) be really, really deficient in the humor department.

    Anyway, to put it in way that will not offend delicate Biblical sensibilities, my point was only that the parents of the child in Lexington have probably exposed their child to far worse things than anything the school system can come up with. Like the front page of the newspaper, for instance–which, by strange coincidence, also features stories of murder, sodomy, genocide, fratricide, masturbation (remember PeeWee Herman?) and single motherhood. Or am I just showing my ignorance of the news media now?

  9. Anonymous says:

    >I had no idea the author of the Frog and Toad Series was gay. Might explain why I don’t care for the books.

    And the *norm* is what society makes it to be, and what each of us as individuals accept it to be. Same-sex relationships were never meant to be the *norm* when the world was created.

  10. Roger Sutton says:

    >Ah, now I know why I don’t care for Harry Potter. It’s because the author is blonde, wait, British.

  11. webshred says:

    >Really? For me it’s because Ms. Rowling’s got wrinkles. I mean, what’s society coming to when wrinkles are the norm? And don’t even get me started on A Wrinkle in Time.

  12. Andy Laties says:

    >Whoa nellie!! I just revealed a bit of what I guess was closeted info about Arnold Lobel and collected a response critical of his books??

    My Dear Anonymous, what you evidently don’t know is that a whole raft of your favorite children’s books — the most popular children’s books in the country — are now officially off limits to you due to the sexual orientation of the author!

    Worse luck for you — I ain’t gonna tell you which books they are or which gender the author is. I guess you’ll just have to stop reading children’s books altogether.

  13. shewhonowwishestobecalledportia says:

    >Surely what the parents aren’t objecting to is the affection this prince feels for the other prince, are they? After all, even they must realize that we should all love one another. So I can only assume that reading this simple children’s book they are already speculating on what the two of them may do in a bedroom in the future. Doesn’t that seem a little salacious for the reading of a children’s book? Yes, and not soon enough. Hello, I want them to come to my storytime. Things have been getting a little slow. We could go through the fairytales and do a quick run down on what sexual practices, peccadillos and persuasions might be exploding in bedrooms when Sleeping Beauty finally awakes and Rapunzel gets her hair back where she wants it.

  14. shewhonowwishestobecalledportia says:

    >You know the more I think about it, the more I think this would make a good blog on its own or even a book called, They Weren’t All Thinking of Their Hats because personally I have always suspected that Cinderella and her prince were doomed because she didn’t think much of his foot fetish and she herself (shh shh but I have it on good authority) was VERY into leather.

  15. shewhonowwishestobecalledportia says:

    >The emperor likes to walk around starkers? Puss in boots – well, no one ever said these things had to be comfortable. The wolf is eating grandma – ech, I don’t want to even go there. As for the two kings and the outraged parents, did no one tell them this was a fairy tale?

  16. shewhonowwishestobecalledportia says:

    >Perhaps we should leave what happens behind closed doors behind closed doors and be happy for any of us who finds love.

  17. webshred says:

    >Exactly. Every parent knows that schools read “fairy” tales to children. If the parents in Lexington never objected to all the other fairy tale books, then they clearly considered this “genre” to be part of the “norm.” So bring on “Sleeping Handsome,” “Buff-Guy and the Beast,” and my favorite, “Rumpledfore–” Whoops! Never mind.

  18. shewhonowwishestobecalledportia says:

    >It’s not just fairy tales; it’s that none of us would pass the litmus test for normal. And peering into other people’s bedrooms is just plain tacky.

  19. >I love KING AND KING (and I’m about as boringly straight as one can get) though I often thought it should be called QUEEN AND QUEEN.

    And the list of both gay and lesbian and bi authors in the field would rule out more than half of childhood’s favorites. And if we added an occasional paedophile and some seriously kinky authors as well, we’d be left with me, Katherine Paterson, J. K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones (but she smokes) and Patricia MacLachlan plus one or two others. Better not read anything more, my friend, just in case. Or just buy all my books over and over and over again. (Heh!)


  20. Roger Sutton says:

    >oh come on, Jane, you’re among friends. Spill.

    Jon Scieszka is very funny on the subject of Katherine Paterson’s private life. Facetiously, of course.

  21. >Well, the only thing bad I can say about Katherine is that when they came to visit–about thirty years ago–her son David (?) pushed my son Adam fully clothed into the swimming pool.

    If you want other gossip, you have to go elsewhere. Besides, I suspect you know it all anyway.

    You can ask Lee Hopkins, though, how I was outed at an ALA meeting because of a story I wrote for AM I BLUE. No amount of argument from him convinced the librarian.


  22. >On a related note — I saw “Wicked” last night. Maybe you’ve already discussed this, but did anyone else think that those two witches were more than just “friends… good friends… best friends”?

  23. >In Lexington’s defense, it was only ONE set of parents out of a class of twenty who found the book so objectionable. Most of us cherish and support diversity in our public schools.

    Great blog, by the way!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind