John Oliver’s Marlon Bundo Named One of 2018’s Most Controversial Books

In 2018, Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President was released. It was a children’s book written by the Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter, Charlotte Pence, and illustrated by her mother, Second Lady Karen Pence. The story follows the Pence’s real life bunny Marlon Bundo as he spends the day following the Vice President on his duties. In response to Mike Pence’s LGBT attitude, the writers behind the show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver decided to put out their own children’s book about the First Bunny, one that was inclusive to all sexual orientations.

Pence’s children’s book was released to raise money for Tracey’s Kids, an art therapy program for children as well as The A21 Campaign, a charity which works to end human trafficking. The parody version was released as A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo and promoted diverse sexualities and it’s proceeds went to The Trevor Project, which works to prevent suicide among young members of the LGBTQ community and AIDS United, a charity which seeks to help the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

Both books were well received upon their respective releases and the Pence family actually reacted positively towards the other book. Charlotte Pence said in an interview that John Oliver’s book was “contributing to charities that I think we can all get behind… I’m all for it.” A post was published on the real Marlon Bundo’s Instagram account which read: “Not gonna lie, I do look pretty fly in a bow tie. The only thing better than one bunny book for charity is…TWO bunny books for charity.”

However, it seems not everyone has been as accepting of John Oliver’s children’s book as the Pences. As The Guardian reports, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo was one of the books most objected to books of 2018 at US public libraries. The best-seller came in second in the American Library Associations list of most challenged books of 2018, with many taking issue with its LGBTQ-themes and political message.

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo is credited to Last Week Tonight’s staff writer Jill Twiss and reached the No. 1 bestseller spot on Amazon upon its publication. Despite being extremely popular, the book has been strongly challenged and the ALA defines the term ‘challenged’ as any book which receives a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

The most challenged book of 2018 was Alex Gino’s George, a middle-grade novel about a transgender child. Other books included The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. Books often included on the list are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

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