Review: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

and-tango-makes-three-richardson-parnellAnd Tango Makes Three
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; April 2005
Hardcover, 32 pages

I read this book the other night, and I’m really having a hard time understanding why it’s been challenged or banned. According to the American Library Association (ALA)’s websiteAnd Tango Makes Three is one of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014. The reasons? “Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: ‘promotes the homosexual agenda.'”

And Tango Makes Three is based on the real story of two male chin strap penguins that lived in Central Park Zoo. Penguins, whom, did everything together: swim, eat, play, sing, hug and sleep together. And in the penguin way of life, “sleeping together” is basically standing next to each other with their eyes closed. When courting season came around, the two male penguins didn’t seem interested in any female penguins. The zookeeper, Mr. Gramzay, came to the conclusion that “they must be in love.”

Note: Nowhere in this book do the authors use the words “gay,” “homosexual,” or “queer.”

Roy and Silo watched as female penguins laid eggs, and she and her male partner took turns keeping the egg warm until it hatched. They, too, wanted their own egg. Roy brought what he thought was an egg (or maybe he knew it wasn’t)–but was actually a pebble–and he and Silo took turns sitting on the pebble, keeping it warm. Of course, and unfortunately, their “egg” did not hatch. But kind Mr. Gramzay had an extra egg that needed incubating, so he decided to gift the egg to Roy and Silo. The “extra” egg came from a female penguin who laid two eggs. Generally, taking care of more than one egg is difficult for penguins, so that second egg was cast aside by its mother.

Roy and Silo took turns incubating the egg until finally it hatched! The zookeeper named the little one Tango. And Tango makes three.

Roy and Silo created their own family when they spent every moment together. But their little chick completed their lives.

In regards for the banned or challenged excuses, I have no idea why it would be for its “political viewpoint” or “religious viewpoint.” I honestly can’t pinpoint where politics or religion come into play in this story. At all. Also, I don’t find this story to be “anti-family” when, in fact, it promotes family. The book begins by stating that “families of all kinds go to visit the animals that live [in Central Park Zoo]” and discover different types of animal families. Yes, the story pointed out mommies and daddies only when referring to animal families, but that still doesn’t mean animal families can’t come in all kinds as well. Finally, what is the “homosexual agenda?” Can someone define that for me, please? Because if the idea of “gay” penguins is going to tear society apart, then we need to take a step back and reevaluate all that we know.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this true story and the idea of “homosexuality” was so subtle that anyone with an agenda is clearly looking for reasons to pooh-pooh on it.

4.5 out of 5
Copy from my local library

Banned Books Week is from September 27 thru October 3. Learn more.

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