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This gay penguin bondage book has angered parents after being found in a pre-school library

Author says children should be allowed to read it while parents say definitely not

This gay penguin bondage book has angered parents after being found in a pre-school library

A picture book where gay penguins get in bondage gear with whips, handcuffs and leather is causing a bit of a flap in New Zealand.

Gus and Waldo’s Book of Love found its way into a Kaiapoi preschool, exposing the three and four-year-olds to a slightly more adult form of relationship.

Written by London-based author and artist Massimo Fenati, it is intended for mature audiences.

Lana McClean was with her three-year-old daughter when they visited Sovereign Star Preschool and Nursery. When her daughter wanted to look at the book, she was shocked by the content.

‘I said to [the manager Brooke Philpott], "I think you have some inappropriate reading material on your shelf. It’s not suitable for toddlers – in fact I don’t even think it’s suitable for my 15-year-old,’ she told Stuff.

The Ministry for Education were contacted, and they confirmed preschools buy their own material and are required to ensure the picture books are suitable.

But Fenati has to admit, the ‘storm in a leather cup’ made him giggle.

‘Children love Gus and Waldo,’ he told Gay Star News. ‘I have loads of straight friends with kids that not only let their children read the book, but actually encourage them to do so, as they feel that showing a positive, happy relationship of two gay characters can be a wonderful way to prevent prejudice in their offspring at a very early stage.’

Fenati said children couldn’t possibly understand the connotations of wearing leather straps and other bondage gear.

‘The mother’s reaction was completely out of proportion,’ he added.

‘When the children of my friend see that page, they obviously ask what the penguins are doing there, as they don’t understand.

‘Generally their parents just say "they’re playing", or "they are trying funny clothes on" and the children are happy with that.’

Philpott apologised for any offence. The pre-school also issued a statement, saying: ‘It is a humorous book depicting cartoon penguins that we had ordered wrongly thinking it was suitable for children given its use of brightly cartooned penguins. The offending bit that we did not spot until a much closer reading is that it depicts the two penguins in bondage gear.

‘We now appreciate that it contains some adult themes that parents would naturally object to and have decided to immediately withdraw it but stress that young children reading it would be completely unaware of the significance of the clothing worn by the penguins.

‘The book is otherwise bright and funny.’

It would probably be best if that New Zealand pre-school does not purchase the third volume in the series, Gus & Waldo’s Book Of Sex. In it, the two penguins try aphrodisiac food, role play, Viagra, swinging and pole dancing.


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