A friend of mine told me a while ago that her local PTO was sponsoring a fundraiser at a local bookstore, and the theme was penguins. Apparently they were going to read a number of books about these flightless birds, so my friend suggested And Tango Makes Three, a story about a baby penguin raised by two males. It’s a great book, she said. But the PTO member who was responsible for these decisions clearly wasn’t into it, and the book wasn’t added to the program. Even these days my two favorite gay penguins face discrimination.
And Tango Makes Three is a great read for the following reasons:
1) It’s well-written
2) It’s not heavy-handed or moralistic
3) It’s a good story
This is really the long and the short of it. A few years ago, Lynn decided that there weren’t enough books out there depicting children with two moms or two dads, so she spent an afternoon on the internet doing some intense “research” so Ray would have more literary role models. A few days later we were suddenly receiving an avalanche of some of the sappiest, most poorly-contructed, saccharine, and excruciatingly rendered stories of children blessed with two mommies or two daddies that I have seen in all my days as a homosexual. Now, I’m no self-hater, but you don’t get a brass ring just because you created a picture book that fills a gap in the market. There’s got to be a story in there somewhere. And maybe an editor, too.
This story is for everybody. It’s funny and endearing and charming and lovely. You don’t feel like someone is clubbing you to death with a frozen leg of lamb. And you don’t feel like the authors are trying to get away from the point, either.
We all know there are all kinds of interesting variations on the circle of life in nature. In this case, two penguins who happen to be male decide they would like to raise an offspring of their own. The zookeeper notices their pitiful, fruitless attempts at hatching a rock and finds an abandoned egg for them to nurture, which they do, with great attention and zeal.
It’s based on a true story. Ray likes the book and has asked for it a few times, but not any more than any other kind of story that he likes. I suppose if he were to suddenly develop a need for more books about children with two mothers then I’d have some work to do — there are few good ones, which is why I wrote this post — but for now he is upstairs sulking because I won’t let him watch a television show with Lego people as characters. ABZ