Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Gay Penguins


For a change something about a children's book. This is no ordinary book though. Just a few weeks back it was named "the most challenged book of 2006" by the American Library Association mainly because of its portrayal of homosexuality. Today's Guardian has an article on it too. It is about two male penguins living as a couple raising a baby penguin. I saw the book on the return desk of the library and remembered reading about it sometime so I thought I will pick it up. I am glad I did. It is very nice and amusing little book. I have no doubt kids would love it.

It is a very short book, just around 20 pages. The pictures are amusing and text fits very well with the images. I personally thought it was perfect for the age-group it was intended for (4-8). After all most of the prejudices, sexual, religious or racial, are ingrained in us early in the childhood. In that sense this book is a wonderful way of introducing the young kids to same sex family. For those who haven't seen the book, this is how homosexuality is explained in the book. The texts are interspersed with different images of the two happy penguins:

Two Penguins in the penguin house were a little bit different. One was named Roy, and other was named Silo. Roy and Silo were both boys. But they did everything together.

They bowed to each other.

And walked together.

They sang to each other.

And swam together.

Whenever Roy went, Silo went too.

They didn't spend much time with the girl penguins, and the girl penguins didn't spend much time with them. Instead, Roy and Silo wound their necks around each other. Their keeper Mr Gramzay noticed the two penguins and thought to himself, "They must be in love"


I was surprised to read at the end of the book that the story is in fact true. There really are two penguins in New York City's Central Park Zoo who raised a baby penguin together! Well another reason to visit central park again. I wanted to go there ever since I saw Angels in America, specially the title sequence (central park is at the end)

Another post on a picture book with a scene showing lesbianism (meant only for adults though) here.

4 comments:

k.b. said...

Thanks for the link to the Proust post. I'm in the middle of Remembrance right now and have been wondering how the film and comic book adaptations have been able to capture (if at all) the cerebral space of his novels.

Alok said...

the comic book is very amusing and interesting to read. Of course it is not supposed to be compared to the original but it does highlight certain features of the book more prominently, specially how consciousness can transcend linear time and immediate surroundings and space. the same with the Raoul Ruiz movie version of Time Regained too.

km said...

If Ingmar Bergman adapted this book into a movie, one of the penguins would argue with Death and the other would lead an unhappy married life.

Aishwarya said...

butbutbut. This is the problem. We cannot "introduce the young kids to the same sex family" or it will turn them all gay! (And possibly turn them all into penguins as well. Don't ask me.)