January 08, 2009

It Takes Two...

I was recently asked to write a book review for Adoption Mosaic, the fantastic organization for which I serve on the program committee. I chose to write about And Tango Makes Three, a wonderful book about Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in New York City, who have been a couple since 1998.

In a nutshell, it’s a story about the love it takes to be a family. Penguin couples can generally only care for one egg at a time, so in 2000, when another penguin couple laid two eggs, Roy Gramzay, their keeper, gave one egg—and Roy and Silo—a chance to be a family.

Roy and Silo watched the other penguins build a nest and hatch an egg, then did the same with the egg Mr. Gramzay brought to them. They take turns caring for the egg and one day it hatches. Mr. Gramzay named the baby Tango, “because it takes two to make a Tango.” Tango is the first penguin at the zoo to have two daddies.

While working on my review, out of curiosity, I went to Amazon to see what other readers had to say about the book and I came across this lovely gem by “conservative mother”:

“This is disgusting. What is the world coming to when we have filth like this being given to our children. All this book is going to do is confuse them!”

(did I mention it's a book about penguins?!)

As a parent, and especially an adoptive parent, I was furious. This is simply a story about family bonds, and the dedication and determination Roy and Silo exhibit during their quest to raise a family. This story will help introduce children to the different ways families are created—an extremely important thing in today’s culture where families are made up of parents of different colors, two moms or two dads, and so on.

Of course I had to post a response:

“What a sad world for children to grow up in when someone finds a book about wanting to be a family ‘disgusting.’ This wonderful true story teaches children that families and love come in all different packages (think adoption, single parents, being raised by grandparents). The only ‘filth’ are comments of intolerance such as yours that have no place in a book review. My child (who happens to have been adopted) loves this book and is not the least bit confused by it.”

So, there you have it. I recommend this book to anyone—it’s a wonderful story.

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