And Tango Makes Three is a wonderful true story from the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Roy and Silo are two male “chinstrap” penguins who discovered each other in 1998 and have been a pair ever since. They raised a foster chick, Tango, that came from a male and female penguin couple who could not care for the egg themselves. Tango, a female, is said to be quite a character, having benefited from the care of two dedicated parents. (You can see for yourself, apparently, since Roy, Silo, and Tango are still at the Zoo!)
The watercolors by Henry Cole are just lovely, and convey all the exotic color and species in the zoo with a touch of whimsy.
I found this book to be quite supportive of heterosexual unions:
… children and their parents aren’t the only families at the zoo. The animals make families of their own. There are red panda bear families, with mothers and fathers and furry red panda bear cubs. There are monkey dads and monkey moms raising noisy monkey babies. There are toad families, and toucan families, and cotton-top tamarin families too.”
It also, however, has no problem celebrating devoted parenthood when it takes different forms, as when Roy and Silo were given the unwanted chick to raise:
Roy and Silo knew just what to do. They moved the egg to the center of their nest. Every day they turned it, so each side stayed warm. Some days Roy sat while Silo went for food. Other days it was Silo’s turn to take care of their egg.”
This book has been the subject of censorship efforts in several locales, and according to a report by “School Library Journal” in 2011:
…has appeared on ALA’s Top Ten List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books [in the number one position] for the past five years and has returned to the top slot after a brief stay at number two in 2009.”
Objections to the book include: “unsuited for age group,” “religious viewpoint” and “homosexuality.” From my reading of the book, the only thing I can identify that would be deemed objectionable is the portrayal of a happy and loving family consisting of two adults of the same gender.
It would be tremendous if children could learn that diversity is a positive aspect of the environment, instead of somehow getting the message that those who prefer members of the same sex should be harassed, bullied or worse.
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (April 26, 2005)
For more reviews of books for children and teens, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.