News (USA)

A bookstore sent a gay book back to the author for violating “policies.” Then the community rallied.

Paul Castle
Paul Castle Photo: Screenshot

A gay, blind author thought he would finally get some success with his children’s book about two male penguins who adopt a baby when a bookstore ordered two boxes of it. But then he had to tearfully report on social media that the bookstore rejected his book and sent back the boxes because it violated their “policies.”

Paul Castle is the author behind the book series The Pengrooms, a book that highlights diverse and LGBTQ+ families by following two married penguins named Pringle and Finn.

The second in the series, called The Secret Ingredient, came out recently, and a bookstore ordered two boxes of it, Castle said (he did not name the bookstore). However, after receiving the books, the bookstore soon sent them back.

The Secret Ingredient, they said, was ordered by someone who “wasn’t entirely up to speed on our policies.”

The children’s book is about how Finn and Pringle “deliver birthday cakes to their LGBTQ+ animal friends. Along the way, Pringle and Finn discover the ‘secret ingredients’ to a loving family,” according to the synopsis.

The Secret Ingredient
Amazon The Secret Ingredient

“The story culminates with a final birthday party: The literal ‘birthday’ of their own adopted baby penguin!”

Castle found out the news via a text-to-speech audio, which he then shared in a reel.

“We have returned the boxes to you,” the store says. “While I think your book is very charming, it’s just not something we can carry in our store at this time.”

After fans and followers of Castle, and his husband Matthew Castle, found out about the bookstore returning Castle’s books, they rallied around the couple. Soon, The Secret Ingredient was completely sold out.

“Hundreds of people are rallying behind you,” Matthew tells Castle in a follow-up reel, telling him that 11 bookstores have “written to ask if they can carry it.”

In an Instagram post, the couple announced the news in an Instagram post, saying “We are both truly blown away by the response. The books that were returned have been purchased, plus a LOT more! In fact we are temporarily out of stock, but another shipment is on its way (you can still place an order).”

“Thank you for turning this really sad moment into something wonderful and magical and full of love,” the post further read.

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