Something for the Kiddies

TangoRemember all the hoopla a while back about gay penguins?

There were the gay penguins at the Bremerhaven Zoo in Germany that biologists were introducing to females in an attempt to make them go straight, and there were the 20 pairs of gay penguins discovered at a zoo in Japan, and then there were Roy and Silo, two male penguins at the Central Park zoo that seemed to be deeply in love. I’ll quote again the New York Times article on them:

“Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. 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. When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused it. And the females aren’t interested in them, either.”

Well, two friends of mine, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, who are, in fact, a devoted couple as well, have written a children’s book about Roy and Silo called And Tango Makes Three. It tells the story of how Roy and Silo, in an attempt to raise a child of their own, try in vain to sit on a stone so it will hatch (hey, nobody said penguins had the biggest IQs). When zookeepers notice this, they give the two gay penguins an egg from another mother that has no bird to care for it. Roy and Silo then take turns sitting on the egg until (through the magic of Mother Nature) they have a chick. The story is, in fact, entirely true.

The great thing about the book is that it introduces children to the concept of homosexuality without being as in-your-face as something like Heather Has Two Mommies. It also happens to have cute-as-hell penguins in it. When I had lunch with Peter and Justin the other day Justin said that at several readings that had been held, the kids were unfazed about the fact that two daddies were raising the chick, and really just wanted to know where that egg came from!

The book is charming and part of the Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers series (recommended for ages 4-8). It will be interesting to see whether this book generates any heat from the right. It’s definitely more upfront about gay parenting than the Postcards from Buster episode that Education Secretary Margaret Spellings had nixed from PBS. I can only imagine how the anti-gay foster parent opponents in Texas would react.

Comments

  1. Matt-chicago says

    It is a great book for kids. They have it featured in the window of the gay + lesbian book store here in Chicago. ( But I will check out barnes & nobles and Borders to see where it is placed.)

  2. says

    FABULOUS! Why didn’t I think of that!

    You’re right- it’s a great way to introduce homosexuality without making it threatening. I mean… they’re PENGUINS FOR GOD’S SAKE!

    love it.

  3. Darren says

    Can we just ship a crate to the Alabama state house? I am sure after they learn to read they will have to reconsider their hatred of gay characters in literature.. especially penguins.

  4. Rickie says

    I ordered mine through BORDERS already. I just can’t wait to bring it to my classroom and let my kids read it.

    Andy, I would like to tell you that this entry made my day. :-)

  5. says

    Wow!!! What a sweet book! I want to get a copy myself for my 4 year old nephew.

    You wouldn’t believe the recent stories here in Massachusetts regarding a children’s books with just the slightest mention of gay parents in it, and another case where a parent is making a federal case out literature passed out as a school about AIDS prevention. Unreal.

  6. says

    Justin Richardson used to be my shrink, so my interest is always piqued when there’s a new book with his name on it. Not 2 hours ago, I was in a Barnes & Noble when I saw “And Tango Makes Three” sitting on the LGBTQ table. I bought it immediately. What a delightful story!

  7. Jeff says

    I think that this book is rediculous and kids at this young age don’t need to read about sexual preference and I was very upset to find this in the public Library in the same area as the rest of the books for kids that should be in a seperate area of the library labled GAYS only

  8. Tracy says

    I’m sure you’re very proud of yourselves!!! You won’t be one day!!!!
    TERRIBLE BOOK!!!! I will be fighting against this one going public much further.

  9. Dr Johnson says

    I am a Zookeeper in Dresden and the idea of 2 male penguins fostering a baby penguin from an egg is not only stupid it is scientificly imposible. What are the mail penguins going to feed the baby with sperm milk?

  10. says

    Two things in these comments are fascinating to me: 1) homophobic individuals, despite their cunning arguments of undeniable logic, cannot spell properly; and 2) homophobic individuals, despite their zealous support of such “family values” as honesty, lie about their education to make themselves appear more plausible. Jeff, I believe you meant to say that this book is “ridiculous” (instead of “rediculous”). Please also learn to use punctuation, as run-on sentences have been a faux pas since third grade. And to Dr. Johnson, the alleged Zookeeper in Dresden: I am most surprised that you find it “scientificly imposible” for two “mail” penguins to raise a chick — scientific impossibility or not, it *has* happened. Too bad science never asked you. (Those are three words which you cannot spell, by the way.) Furthermore, penguins are birds. Mammals lactate to create milk, not penguins, on account of them being birds. Penguin parents regurgitate food to their chicks; both parents. I would expect a Zookeeper to know that, but then again, I am only a biomedical researcher.

  11. Adam says

    And Tango Makes Three is educational. It has it’s place on our shelves, whether it’s scientifically correct or not. There’s a lesson there–a story–that is valuable in teaching children acceptance of those that are different than them. It’s not only valuable in teaching acceptance of sexuality, but any difference in race, class, gender, or religion. I commend the authors.

  12. erin says

    this book is just some sick sly way to introduce to our young children about gays without their parent around to monitor what they are picking up and reading in their public library. They might not know what being gay means by the tender ages of 4-8, but I feel this book is pulling a fast one behind parents’ backs.

  13. Dan says

    This book sucks and will never be supported by me or my family. The gays should keep their odd ways to themselves rather than exposing kids to this stuff.

  14. Bella says

    Thank you, Theron. I for one have to say that it is FAR more important to point out grammatical and punctuation errors than to be arguing about a book that does nothing more than explain ways of life to young readers. Whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not, there ARE gay people out there. It happens. Get over it. This world is evolving, and you may not want it to, but you can’t stop it. So instead of embracing change, (This does NOT mean that you have to becoming “gay” or worry that the exposure to your children will make them “gay”)You are teaching your children to hate. Which is worse, I ask you. I for one will be teaching MY children the evil of mis-punctuation and misspellings, as that speaks higher of ones character than sexual preference.
    Two words. Grow Up.

  15. Bella says

    Thank you, Theron. I for one have to say that it is FAR more important to point out grammatical and punctuation errors than to be arguing about a book that does nothing more than explain ways of life to young readers. Whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not, there ARE gay people out there. It happens. Get over it. This world is evolving, and you may not want it to, but you can’t stop it. So instead of embracing change, (This does NOT mean that you have to becoming “gay” or worry that the exposure to your children will make them “gay”)You are teaching your children to hate. Which is worse, I ask you. I for one will be teaching MY children the evil of mis-punctuation and misspellings, as that speaks higher of ones character than sexual preference.
    Two words. Grow Up.

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