And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

“We’ll call her Tango,” Mr. Gramzay decided, “because it takes two to make a Tango.”

Genre: Picture Book, Nonfiction

Synopsis: And Tango Makes Three tells the real-life story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo spent all of their time together and engaged in many different courtship demonstrations. The two even attempted to incubate rocks in their shared nest and to steal eggs from other penguin couples. Upon seeing this, the zookeepers decided to give Roy and Silo a chance as fathers, and gave them an extra egg from another penguin couple who had failed to simultaneously hatch two eggs in the past. Roy and Silo were excellent nest-sitters, and were rewarded when the egg hatched and a chick named Tango was born.

The real-life Roy and Silo at Central Park Zoo.

Review: Since And Tango Makes Three was the first children’s picture book on my list of banned and challenged books, I decided to enlist the help of my six-year-old niece, Ava, for reviewing this book. A little background on my guest reviewer: Ava has been raised in a very accepting and open household. As a little girl who has a loving mother, father, step-mother, and step-father in her life, as well as a large handful of grandfather’s and grandmother’s, Ava has certainly seen firsthand how families come in all shapes and sizes. For that reason, her positive reaction to And Tango Makes Three didn’t surprise me. When I asked her what her favorite parts of the book were, she said the best part was when Roy and Silo became fathers and the second-best part was when all of the zoogoers cheered for the  happy family. When I asked her how she felt about the fact that Roy and Silo were both boys, she said, “It’s okay.” A short moment later, she added, “It’s more than okay.” Reading And Tango Makes Three launched Ava on a penguin buzz for the whole day. When we stopped by the library later that afternoon, she picked out a new penguin book to take home. She also drew a picture of Roy, Silo, and Tango. Altogether, And Tango Makes Three was a big success in our household.

Ava’s drawing of Tango, Roy, and Silo.

Reason for Ban/Challenge:  Since it’s publication in 2005, And Tango Makes Three has made the American Library Association’s top-ten list of frequently challenged books for seven out of ten years. For 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010, And Tango Makes Three held the “coveted” position of Most Challenged Book of the Year. Indeed, few  books on my list have faced such vehement opposition as this one has. Accused of being anti-family and promoting the “homosexual agenda,” And Tango Makes Three has reignited debates on freedom of speech and censorship. Altogether, I think And Tango Makes Three provides an excellent and natural avenue for discussing different families, and can ultimately help kids become more open-minded adults.







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