Pull up a seat and have a steaming cup with me as we discuss issues central to the west-indian community, the african-american community and the LGBT community.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

And Tango Makes Three

This book by Justin Richardson has been on the market for almost three years now but since it was a recent topic of discussion it on The View, with Sherry stating it would be "too much" for her three year old son Jeffrey, I thought it was worth a re-visit.

Just looking at the three ultra-cute penguins on the cover, one might never suspect that this book topped the ALA's (American Library Association) list of 'most challenged books' in 2006. In other words, it was banned big time! Why? well because the two adult penguins on the front cover, are not a male and female raising their adorable baby; they're two male penguins raising an adopted baby.

The children's book (ages 4-8) tells the touching true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins that live at the Central Park zoo in New York City. Zookeepers were astonished to discover that not only did Roy and Silo seem to spend all their time together,they built a nest and tried to hatch an egg by sitting on a large rock they'd placed in their nest.

They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": That is,
they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo
and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins. - Dinita Smith, New
York Times. 02/07/04.

This behavior prompted zookeepers to give Roy and Silo one of two eggs that were fertilized by a mixed-gender penguin couple. Since the biological parents could not care for the extra egg anyway, the keepers thought they would see what Roy and Silo would do with it. Well, they immediately sat on it and looked after it with extreme care,taking turns sitting on it until it hatched.When it did, they feed it tenderly and looked after the little female penguin who was named Tango, just as well as a male and female penguin could.

Now, I have not read the book as yet but according to the research I've been doing, it seems like a touching story about the power of love and could also be used to teach about adoption-nothing scandalous about it! In fact, with my sister and her husband's permission, I would love to give it as a gift to my neice or nephew once he/she is born in a few months. It teaches children diversity and acceptance and helps them to understand that there are many different types of families that exist in this world and ALL of them are capable of love.

My question is, why would this book be banned if it's based on a true story about animals who did what was seemingly natural to them which was love each other and love this baby that they were put in charge of? Like Whoopi said when she responded to Sherry on the view: children are most likely not going to take away from this book that these penguins are gay; what they're gonna take from it, is that the penguin was loved and was given the chance to grow up with real parents rather than set under a lamp or something to be hatched that way.

I read one review that had the gall to say that reading this to their child would threaten the sanctity of his marriage to his wife.

My question again is ..how exactly? How could teaching your child tolerance threaten anything?

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson: if you're not afraid of cute,"gay" penguins,I urge you to give it a read. I will.

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