Thursday, December 6, 2007

Banned Book Week Update: Penguins

When it comes to banned or challenged books, my first question seems to be, "What is all the fuss about?" I have to find out myself.

The story of And Tango Makes Three was intriguing: two male chinstrap penguins lived together as a couple and tried to hatch an egg together. When the penguin-keeper gave them an egg, they hatched it together and raised the chick together.

Charming for fiction. Unbelievable for real life. But it was real: Roy and Silo were two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who chose to cohabitate. During their years together, the tried to hatch stones (because both were male and could not lay eggs). The penguin-keeper gave them a real egg to try to hatch — which they did.

So, I decided to read the book to see what the fuss was about.

It was written simply and directly, and the illustrations were adorable and charming. (My personal favorite drawing was the "aerial" view of the egg-warming penguin in the nest.) It was fact-based, and at the end are the details about the true story. There was even a little joke in there for adults relating to the word "Tango."

I also read a couple of Web sites that included entries stating some bloggers' objections to the book and research on same-sex pairing in the animal kingdom.

Perhaps if I shared the detractors' ideology, I would understand their objections better. However, I read no endorsement of any penguin instincts described in the book, whether it was exhibited by same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

In the end, all I did was read a story about two penguins in the Central Park Zoo who hatched an egg and raised a chick, and the story and illustrations were cute. The fact that Roy and Silo were both male didn't seem to make much of a difference to them, so it didn't make a difference to me.

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