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The most heavily contested book in America? It's 'And Tango Makes Three,' children's book about penguins

October 2, 2009 |  3:37 pm

Tango Our friends at The Times' books blog, Jacket Copy, have alerted us to the fact that it's the 27th annual Banned Books Week.  

Now, in the good ol' days of book-banning, groups joined together to rid the world of filth such as Joyce's "Ulysses," Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five."

Nowadays, though, the most heavily contested book in the U.S. is not faulted by its critics for its use of strong language, violence or perceived vulgarity. It's "And Tango Makes Three," a children's picture book about two real-life penguins that live in New York's Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo, to be sure, aren't the most common of penguin pairs -- both are male -- but the children's book about them, which emphasizes the importance of tolerance to youngsters, hardly seems contentious.

A few years back, Roy and Silo seemed so desperate to hatch a chick that, undeterred by the fact that neither of them had the necessary anatomy to lay an egg, they placed a rock in their nest and tried to incubate it. Eventually, keepers gave them a fertile egg to care for, and they successfully hatched and raised a female chick -- the Tango of the book's title. 

Hardly the stuff of Steinbeck, but the books critics have attempted to have it banned from schools and libraries citing reasons including homosexual and "anti-family" themes. (Anti-family? It seems decidedly pro-family to us -- and pro-penguin to boot.)  Poor penguins -- if it's not a female penguin homewrecker breaking up their same-sex partnership, it's someone trying to ban their book.  

Gay penguin dads in German zoo hatch their first chick

-- Lindsay Barnett

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