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Flap over gay penguins' pride and joy

penguins have never fought shy of controversy. Who can forget the stir caused by the revelation that "Pingu" was Hispanic slang for a man's privates?

So the flippered stars of And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, will be expecting to ruffle feathers when the award-winning children's book reaches our shores this summer.

Lavished with praise in its native America, the book tells the true story of two gay penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo who adopted and raised a baby penguin. Zoo-keepers spotted the pair, named Roy and Silo, futilely attempting to hatch an egg-shaped stone and gave them a real egg from a mixed-sex couple.

Parnell said he had been "delighted and touched" by the story and wanted to write something that would appeal to gay parents and their children.

Predictably, the book has been attacked by the Christian Right, who sought to have it banned from school libraries or removed to the restricted section.

A similar outcry is likely here, where Middle England has already got hot under the collar over titles such as King and King and Spacegirl Pukes, which campaigners say "promote" homosexuality.

Sadly, some would feel, the relationship between Roy and Silo ended when Silo dumped Roy for a female penguin named Scrappy.

And Tango Makes Three is published by Simon and Schuster on July 7.

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