You guys! It’s Banned Books Week! BBW is my favorite of the multitude of official days/weeks/months America celebrates every year. Last week, I learned that it was National Single and Unmarried Americans Week thanks to this depressing article in the New York Times that taught me all of the ways we discriminate against singletons in this country. There’s really no way to celebrate that. I can, however, celebrate BBW by reading a LOT of books that other people have deemed inappropriate for me to read. My contrary streak thrives on this kind of spitefulness. In fact, I would have never given And Tango Makes Three a second look, but it tops ALA’s list of banned and challenged books for several recent years. Obviously, I had to check that out. I was not disappointed. It’s ADORABLE, and it may be my favorite banned book of all time. Except for Harry Potter, of course. (You can read all about my affection for Harry in the Books We Force On Our Friends section of the blog if you missed that earlier. Have you guys been on Pottermore yet?)
Anyway. Back to the cute penguins. And Tango Makes Three is the true story of two penguins in the Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo. Roy and Silo are depressed because all the other penguin couples in the zoo have an egg to take care of, and they do not. They improvise by trying to hatch a rock that is shaped like an egg. (The pictures of them trying to hatch their rock made me SO SAD for them. Bravo, Henry Cole.) When the zookeeper realizes what they are trying to do, he take an egg from another penguin couple who can’t handle the responsibility of two eggs and gives it to Roy and Silo, who successfully care for the egg until Tango hatches. Tango grows up healthy and happy. The end!
You may be asking what is so controversial about this nice penguin story. Here goes: Roy and Silo are both male penguins. This is the reason for the backlash that keeps this sweet story at the top of the banned & challenged books list.
Sadly, Silo left Roy to partner with a new penguin, Scrappy. I suppose now we can add “divorced” to the ways that this is a non-traditional family. Also, these are penguins. I don’t think they’re trying to make any statements about lifestyle choices.
If you’d also like to celebrate BBW and spite potential censors by reading books they don’t approve of, check out ALA’s banned and challenged books section for a list of candidates. You’ll also find interesting information about why a dictionary might be removed from one school or which books have been burned by Nazis or 21st century churches. Beware, though. Reading about censorship makes me feel a little stabby, and you might feel the same way. Remember to take a cleansing breath as you go out to pick up a book that someone wants to keep out of your hands.