Roy and Silo are two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who became a couple. They bonded the same way a male and female penguin normally do. They made their own nesting area, and they tried to hatch egg-sized rocks the way other penguin couples around them were hatching eggs. When one couple couldn’t take care of its second fertilized egg, it was given to Roy and Silo. They took turns sitting on the egg and caring for it until a baby penguin, Tango, hatched. The two have continued to raise Tango, and the three live as a family in the zoo just like all the other penguin families.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell is a children’s picture book about this penguin family. Normally, I wouldn’t review a picture book, but this one is special, and I felt like I should review it despite that not being the norm for me. This is one of the most widely challenged books in libraries and has been for several years. Why? Because it talks about a well-adjusted homosexual animal family. It’s nonfiction, which makes it even worse in the eyes of some people. People don’t want to face the fact that homosexuality does indeed occur in animals (this isn’t the only documented instance). Because it’s a children’s book, they’re afraid their children might see it and get the idea that homosexuality is okay.
The book is adorable. This penguin couple is so cute, and their “sexuality” doesn’t really matter at all. They’re just two parents who adopt a baby penguin that another couple can’t take care of. There’s a lot of love, it celebrates family, and for goodness sake it’s nonfiction! It’s not like somebody wrote a fictional penguin story to advocate homosexuality or something! I’m sorry, but I can’t see a factual children’s book as being “morally wrong.” Are the penguins in the Central Park Zoo morally wrong? Should we just hush them up, separate them, and pretend they never bonded? Come on!
I plan to let all three of my kids read this. Already I had a great experience with my oldest (age 8). He asked what was so special about this book. It’s not often they see Mom reading picture books. I said many people wanted it to be taken out of libraries, and he asked why. I told him because it had two boy penguins raising their baby, and he said, “Gay penguins? What’s wrong with that?” I am so, so proud. I can’t say how proud I am of him.
Maybe it’s this reaction from kids that people worry about. That the kids will look at these gay penguins and think, “What’s wrong with that?” But this book is fact! It’s not fiction! If a kid sees it and his parents don’t like that, they can just say it’s wrong for two boy penguins to be together, the same way they tell the kid it’s wrong for two boy people to be together. Then the kid will know that the penguins are sinful or unnatural and that’ll be that. Do I sound a bit sarcastic here? I’m sure I do. I can see why people don’t want to deal with this book. Their arguments just sound silly in the face of nature.
Anyway, it was a wonderful book, such a cute story, and it takes a much shorter time to read than this review. I encourage everyone to support it, and your local library. 🙂