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And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
And Tango Makes Three is a book written for children and is based on a true story which actually happened in Central Park Zoo in New York. I came across this book when my son, who is training to be a teacher at university in America, told me about it. He has to study books that have an important message behind them so that he can present them to children and discuss the issues they raise.
The book has attracted a lot of criticism, but has also won many awards so has split opinion. In many parts of the US it has limited access or has been banned altogether. I hope this review will seek to present this book in a way that explains why I think it has an important message, especially today when there are so many different families making up our society.
Roy and Silo are two male penguins and in the zoo they were seen to be extremely close to each other, in fact they were soul mates and shared their days together. One day it was noticed that they were trying to build a nest and were placing a rock inside this nest in much the same way as a female would nurture an egg. For many months the zoo keepers witnessed their behaviour and co-incidentally at the time there were two other penguins, Betty and Porkey, that had two eggs. They could not care for both, and so the keepers gave one egg to the male penguins who were absolutely devoted to its care, and onwards they looked after their offspring with love and dedication. This offspring was Tango.
This book is superbly written and illustrated and I love the first two pages which explain the location of Central Park and how "families of all kinds" go to visit. The pictures are absolutely stunning, and the facial expressions on the penguins are so lifelike, and their wide open eyes reflect happiness and a passion for life. Somehow the illustrations manage to capture the way that penguins waddle even though the images are still.
The book is so sensitively written and it introduces Roy and Silo as being devoted to each other. It beautifully describes how they use this devotion to give the love and the care to the egg when it is given to them taking turns to incubate it. The book simply states "Tango was the very first penguin to have two daddies"
Reading this book, which has a target age of 7 to 11, I would say that I was moved almost to tears by the sentiment behind it. In our world today we have so many different family units, and it has always been my belief that offspring need love care and dedication, and that is not always linked to conventional family make up. I know this isn't accepted in many religions which is why this book has been criticised, but it seems to me that children need to understand that love is more important than anything, and that prejudice in whatever form is a dangerous feeling to have. I have always been of the view that we must honour all families and not be judgemental. Whatever your view of homosexuality there is no disputing the fact that these two penguins actually were soul mates in the zoo, and were perfectly able to nurture their offspring, even if maybe the encouragement was something some would dispute and say was a step too far.
One of my best friends is gay and I know he would make the best father in the world, so for me this book is a celebration of love. I believe that children should be told sensitively about all aspects of the world and not shielded from it. The way this book is written is absolutely beautiful because it remains very much in the observation mode. It tells a true story and portrays events in a heart warming way.
In my lifetime I have seen and heard many who voice hatred towards minority groups in whatever capacity they fall and it has appalled me. I think this book is not promoting homosexuality, but just saying yes it happens and yes it can have very happy endings.
This book is available to purchase from Amazon for £5.15 with free delivery. There is also a clip on YouTube where the authors read the first part of the book- just type in their names and it will come up in the search.
This review will also be published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.