LGBTQ+ books at the center of homophobic controversy in Hungary coming to North America this fall

LGBTQ+ books at the center of homophobic controversy in Hungary coming to North America this fall

Early One Morning and Bedtime, Not Playtime!, a pair of board books featuring LGBTQ+ families which recently ignited controversy over homophobic laws in Hungary after a bookshop was fined for selling them, will be published in English and French in North America from Orca Book Publishers on September 14. 

Written by Lambda Literary Award-winner Lawrence Schimel and illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa, these two rhyming board books focus on young children with LGBTQ+ parents. In Bedtime, Not Playtime! a young girl and her daddies go on a chase around their house after their puppy steals her teddy bear before bedtime. In Early One Morning, a young boy is awake before his moms and sister and gets breakfast ready for himself and the family cat.

Hungarian bookshop chain Líra Könyv was fined for selling the Hungarian translation of the books and failing to indicate it contained “content which deviates from the norm,” according to county commissioner Richard Tarnai’s remarks on Hungarian TV station Hír TV. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family,” he said.

Orca Book Publishers condemns discriminatory censorship and is proud to be publishing Early One Morning and Bedtime, Not Playtime! in North America. Orca strives to produce books that illuminate the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and families and to represent the diversity of human experience to readers of all ages.

“It’s been so wonderful and heartwarming to see how these books have been so welcome in so many countries and languages around the world,” Schimel said.

“The whole genesis for this project was to create books about rainbow families that were fun and joyful. Where being LGBT is not part of the conflict of the plot. And I think that it is obvious from all the many editions that there is a tremendous thirst for happy queer stories like these.”

Early One Morning and Bedtime, Not Playtime! have been published in over 23 editions around the world. The French editions are Trop tôt pour se lever! and Trop tard pour jouer!.

Schimel is based in Madrid, Spain and writes in both Spanish and English. He has published over 120 books as author or anthologist in a wide range of genres, including fiction, poetry, graphic novels and children’s literature. 

Schimel has twice won a Lambda Literary Award and has also won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a White Raven from the International Youth Library in Munich, and has been chosen for IBBY’s Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities three times. He is also a prolific literary translator.

“While so much attention in the media has focused so far on the homophobic Hungarian government that is in power and its attacks on the book and LGBT rights, I think it’s important to also highlight how much resistance there is to this from so many institutions and individuals,” Schimel said.

“While some bookshops have now made “warning” labels for the books, the chain that was fined, Lira Könyv, refused to put a warning on the book and instead but a warning on the entire store, at the entrance: ‘In this bookstore we sell books with different content than traditional ones.'”

“It is humbling and awe-inspiring for me to see so many parents post photos in Instagram reading these books with their kids and tagging the photos #civildisobedience.”

Related Media:

The GuardianHungary fines bookshop chain over picture book depicting LGBT families

New York Daily NewsHungary issues fine over book featuring LGBTQ ‘rainbow families’

ReutersHungary levies fine over sale of book about ‘rainbow families’

About Orca Book Publishers (

Founded in 1984, Orca Book Publishers is an independently owned Canadian children’s book publisher of award-winning, best-selling books in a number of genres. With 1200 active titles in print and digital formats and 95 new titles each year, Orca prides itself on publishing Canadian authors and bringing them to a wider market.

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