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Panel says challenged book can stay in library

A book about a same-sex penguin couple and the egg they hatch together will stay on the shelves at Meadowview Elementary School.

A District 192 resource review panel met March 4 to discuss the book, "And Tango Makes Three," and to take comment from the public. The only residents to show up were Steve and Tammy VanWinkle, who filed a request last month to have the book moved somewhere students couldn't get to it without a parent's permission. The panel's decision will keep the book available to all students at MVES and at all other district elementary schools, a move that limits the opportunity for challenges at other schools. The decisions were unanimous.

Each member of the review panel read the book and wrote a review. The picture book, which is aimed at students 4 to 8 years old, tells the true story of two male chinstrap penguins that hatched an egg and raised a young penguin at New York's Central Park Zoo.

District administrative services director Rosalyn Pautzke, a member of the review committee, said she worried at first when the book talked about love, but said she felt the book's themes were more about family than sexual love.

"I felt good about that," Pautzke said. "I thought it showed a very soft side of these birds."

In their written complaint the VanWinkles said it should be up to parents to talk with their children about topics such as same-sex relationships. They filed the complaint after their kindergarten-age son brought the book home.

"We feel very strongly a topic such as sexual preference does not belong in a library where it can be obtained by young elementary students," they wrote.

was at the top of the American Library Association's list of most challenged books in both 2006 and 2007 but it has also received good reviews from several national organizations and was listed among the top 10 books on a national list of books to be in school libraries.