Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Review Club: And Tango Makes Three

This year, for Banned Books week, I read a controversial children's picture book.

And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell,
illus. by Henry Cole
NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c. 2005

At New York City's Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.

This is a very sweet book based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins at New York's Central Park zoo, who acted like a couple, built a nest and tried to hatch a rock. When one of the female penguins laid two eggs, a zookeeper took one of the eggs and put it in Roy and Silo's nest. (Previously, the female and her partner had never been able to raise more than one egg at a time.) But Roy and Silo were up to the job. They took turns sitting on the nest to keep the egg warm, and when it hatched, they took care of Tango, feeding her and teaching her to swim. The book ends with the three of them as a happy family.

After the book was published, one of the male penguins dumped the other for a female, so I guess he was really bi. Who knows? They're penguins!

Believe it or not, the ALA lists this book as the most challenged book of 2006, 2007 & 2008 and the most banned book of 2009, because of the gay penguin theme. Frankly, I think both sides of the debate are reading a little too much into it. It seems to me that penguins come from a very harsh ecosystem, and obviously both male and female penguins are hard-wired to protect and nurture their young to ensure survival of the species.

In any case, it's a sweet, heartwarming story, with delightful artwork. And honestly, what is cuter than a penguin?


Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy


Sarah Laurence said...

Great choice and review. I remember reading of that charming story in the papers. How absurd to ban a picture book!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love penguins - and penguin romance - how fun. But the gay penguin part - now that's rather funny, too. Interesting topic for a picture book and the idea of a picture book getting banned is funny, too. Maybe funny isn't the right word but the absurd is often funny. This was all new to me. Thanks for reviewing it!

pattinase (abbott) said...

This sounds like a perfect book for my grandson. He loves penquins and he is very much into babies.

Beth Yarnall said...

I wonder how many preschoolers turned gay from reading this book.
Sorry, couldn't help the sarcasm. I often wonder just what the Banned Books people are so afraid of. Is the subject matter too close for comfort? Are they using the guise of protecting children to shield themselves from uncomfortable ideas and concepts? It hurts my head to have to think about.
I'd heard about this book and thought it was sweet. Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Thanks for a great review, Linda. :-)

Barrie said...

Amazing what gets banned, isn't it? I'm ordering this from the library now. Thanks for reviewing!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Kathy and Patti, I love penguins, too. They are so cute.

Beth, I know what you mean. I just don't understand the mentality behind the morality police. I've always thought live and let live was a good motto to live by.

Barrie, I am often amazed at what gets banned or challenged.

Thanks to all for dropping by.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

My boys have this book, and it is a great story. The idea of banning it is ridiculous!

Linda McLaughlin said...

I agree, Alyssa. Ridiculous.