And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole
Welcome to Banned Books Week 2011, which begins today and ends October 1. Leading the “Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010” – at the top for the fifth year in a row, with a respite at #2 in 2009! – is little Tango. Reasons cited: “homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group.”
REALLY? With all the boring, tedious, just plain old bad books out there, this is the most challenged title out there again? As my teen son has recently started to quip, “Are you kidding me?!!”
Here’s the story: Two male penguins, Roy and Silo, living in New York City’s Central Park Zoo bow, walk, sing, and swim together. Their keeper, Mr. Gramzay notes to himself that “‘[t]hey must be in love.'” When the two try to hatch a rock, Mr. Gramzay finds “an egg that needed to be cared for” and places it in Roy and Silo’s nest. With their careful nurturing, out pops a fuzzy little baby: “‘We’ll call her Tango,’ Mr. Gramzay decided, ‘because it takes two to tango.'” And thus far, the family continues to live happily ever after.
What’s not to love about such a touching, devoted story? It’s beautifully written by a double-Ivy-teaching shrink and a notable Broadway playwright. The illustrations are pretty terrific, too. The whole package is quite inspiring.
Again, I have to ask: REALLY? Detractors can’t even argue the all-too-predictable ‘unnatural’ angle because the prominent “Authors’ Note” on the final page clearly states: “All the events in this story are true.” Yes, true. In case of any confusion, synonyms for ‘true’ include appropriate, authentic, correct, factual, genuine, honest, kosher (love that one!), legitimate, natural, normal, perfect, proper, right, trustworthy, undeniable, and veracious.
As for “religious viewpoint,” I’m left with a giant question mark. I couldn’t find a single mention of anything vaguely religious. As for “unsuited to age group,” that objection also doesn’t hold: Plenty of children of all ages – newborns included! – have two mothers or two fathers (not to mention two-parent families are endangered enough these days!).
In a world blighted by war, poverty, broken governments, and other such man-made causes of death and destruction, celebrating the family unit – and the many miraculous, mysterious ways families come together – gets us one step closer to peace. Go rogue … share the love: read Tango with your kids … the earlier the better!
Tidbit: July 11, 2014 – Poor Tango! His family is enough to get the book destroyed by the National Library Board in Singapore. My, my, my … surreal how penguins, adoptions, and unconventional families can be so threatening to some. Read all about the fear here.
Tidbit Update: July 18, 2014 – Perhaps the international uproar against the National Library Board’s destructive book banning had something to do with their latest decision? So no pulping of Tango and White Swan Express, just moving those titles to the adult section. Right. You can read about the peripatetic plans here.