Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It Takes Two...

Perhaps only if you love books as much as I do, would you understand my delight in finding a section at the Main Library that contained all of their new picture books. It was hard to contain myself and not scoop all of them up. It wouldn't be fair to other patrons to take all of the new books. In a hurry, I quickly assessed each book, mainly based on the cover, as most newer books have no cover jacket which gives details about the story on the inside flap.

This one looked cute. It had a photo of a penguin family on the front, and given the plethora of penguin movies lately, I thought it might fit in to continuing a study of them. I stuck it in my crate. Some days later and unsuspecting, I pulled out several books to read to William. After reading several pages, I slowed. "Uh, let's read a different book," I said.

My pause and momentary confusion did not go unnoticed by William. All you have to do is say, "You can't watch this show, it's too scary" or "Close your eyes" or "No, this is not appropriate for you" to pique his interest and ensure that he will do his damnedest to see or hear it. I decided to continue to read the book and not make a big issue of it, and maybe, like most books, we'd read it one time and that would satisfy him. He would forget it. He only has a select number of books he reads more than once.

What made me a little uncomfortable? I was unprepared for the subject matter of And Tango Makes Three and just before bedtime, I didn't want to get into a conversation with my six year old about gay adoption, which is basically the underlying message of this book. The story line is that two male penguins were paired, and yet had no egg. Given an egg by a human, they successfully hatched the egg and parented the chick, as male penguins often do in a male-female relationship.

Can penguins really be "gay"? Well, Google "gay penguins" for some interesting reading. In this true story contained in this book, after successfully raising their chick Tango, Roy and Silo broke up when a hussy named Scrappy stole Silo away, leaving Roy despondent. Still, there are many accounts of gay couples among penguins in captivity, once the blood tests are done (you can't visually tell a boy penguin from a girl).

My question for you is should the library have a separate section for children's books that might be objectionable to some parents? Should this book be in a "mature" children's section? Would you read this book to your child?

8 comments:

Chris Bowers said...

Wow! Awkward. I always try to tell my kids how it is, whether I believe it or not. So, if they brought that book home, I'm sure we'd talk about it. It's gets political for the library when they have to make tough decisions like that one.

Kristina said...

I haven't read the book. But, I could see my husband and a friend "raising" their children "together" if their wives died. Granted, they probably wouldn't live together, but they would still be best friends and help each other out. So, the question for me is, why does this have to be about gays and not about male bonding?

What makes people think the penguins were gay and not just doing their job and raising the baby given them? Similar situation to the two hens roosting on one egg. They are doing what nature intended, just in a more cooperative manner than we see every day.

Kristina said...

Oh, and I forgot to answer your question. LOL

I think there should be a seperate section at the library. However, the libraries that refuse to allow parents access to what their children are checking out, will never agree to that.

pita-woman said...

Hmm, I don't know as it should've been in a different section, but perhaps there should be some kind of coding system in place, even if they only use color dots on the covers/spine, to let unsuspecting parents what they're about to check-out.

Jennifer Jilks said...

You ask good questions, junosnom!

Firstly, I would question whether the content is clear on the book jacket. If so - I always read the jacket.
I know there are some in the animal kingdom that are homosexual. It is a normal part of some mammals' lives.
I think you cannot impose your values on library patrons by creating a section for homosexual content. If you do it would be as bad as creating a section for whites only.

These kinds of books were written for and by those whose lives have been touched by this topic. When I was teaching students I would ensure that I would read book that applied to the reality of student's lives to help peers clarify their thinking. Some themes arise: birth, death, disabled peers, foster children, and I created an amazon book list for such. I think children need to be educated if they have such questions and since you are concerned I guess you have to be hypervigilent!

Junosmom said...

Chris: Well, I brought that book home! My mistake for not reading it first, but generally, we read so much that I do not pre-read through every picture book.

Kristina: Well, not to be graphic, but if you read a little about these penguin pairs, they actually do mating behaviors and have sex. I guess that pretty much seals it. But it does say that the penguins do have a strong desire to father no matter their partner's gender.

This post was less about my own feelings about gay adoption and marriage, which again, is not my topic (I'll save it for another day when I feel that I can take the heat for my more liberal views) but my surprise that a book with such a heavy (IMO) message was just mixed in with all the others. Wake up, Junosmom.

And, there was no jacket cover, Jennifer, which was, IMO, part of the problem - I might have noticed. I suppose if I were of a different mindset, I would have to pre-read every picture book. Not going to happen, so I'll likely be surprised again.

Kristina said...

Ah, well, that explains it. I guess I'll have to read up on it more. LOL I was actually given the impression that Happy Feet was based on this book, but I might be wrong?

Kristen Painter said...

If I had kids, I wouldn't read them that book.

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