Kid Lit Review of “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

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 [inexplicably] 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)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0689878451
ISBN-13: 978-0689878459

Rating: 5/5

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7 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

  1. Sandy says:

    Some people need to take a chill pill. Jeez, it isn’t like the male penguins are having sex in the book. I think this looks completely sweet!!!

  2. This looks awfully cute Jill. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  3. Staci@LifeintheThumb says:

    I’ve read about the controversy with this book. I’ve learned that every has an opinion on everything, but pulling the book from any public library is NOT the answer.

  4. bookingmama says:

    This book is so cute and I agree that there are some fantastic messages in it!

  5. Jenners says:

    Of course some people have to make a fuss about a lovely story like this. I wish I’d known about this before I visited that zoo!

  6. I’m aware of this book, but don’t yet have it on our shelves at home … time to remedy that!

  7. stacybuckeye says:

    I’ve seen this book on the banned list. EVEN IF you disagreed with two male penguins having a chick (:)) I still think that to pretend it isn’t a way of life is a disadvantage to your kid. On the flip side, as a mom of a 21 month old still trying to figure things out this concept would be confusing, IMO. Maybe I’m wrong about that I don’t know. It’s sometimes hard to know what’s going on in that brain of his. Definitely one I’ll have to pick up at some point. I love that zoo and those penguns 🙂

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