Picture Book Perfect Friday – And Tango makes Three

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And Tango Makes Three

Written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole

Publishers : Simon and Schuster April 2005

Ages 3-8


Themes : penguins, zoos, love as the basis of family life , tolerance, adoption, diversity, homosexuality

Opening and Synopsis : « In the middle of New York City there is a great big park called Central Park, Children love to play there…. best of all it has its very own zoo. » This is based on a true story of two penguins living in the Central Park Zoo, who fall in love and form a family. This has been one of the most banned books of the past six years in the US because the penguins are both boys.

The authors start the story by describing Central Park and the zoo that is located there. They describe many animals including one pair of penguins that was different. Silo and Roy were both boys, but they did everything together. They even built a nest together.

Their keeper watches the Silo and Roy as adorably they mimic the other penguin couples and try to hatch a rock. He decides to give Roy and Silo an orphan egg that needs to be cared for instead. The penguins spend much time sitting on the egg and keeping it warm until the day it cracks open, and little Tango comes out. The zookeeper calls her Tango because “It takes two to make a Tango.”

Why do I like this book? This story is very sweet and full of love and care between partners and parents and their child. Children adore penguins and love the fact that this is a true story. Many children won’t even notice that Tango had two daddies because they are caught up in the loving family, but for children who ask good questions, this book is a wonderful launching pad to talk of all sorts of different families and accepting these differences.

I would highly recommend And Tango Makes Three to families with two dads, two moms or those with adopted children, as I think children in those types of families would be able to relate well to the character of Tango. I also highly recommend it to anyone who wants to show their children that families come in all different forms ~ as well as to penguin lovers, of course!

Activities: Zoo visits! Follow up discussions are very important if the listeners have questions. Here is a Tango Makes Three Educator’s Guide.

This is part of a series for teachers and parents called Picture Book Perfect Friday hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.

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16 Responses to Picture Book Perfect Friday – And Tango makes Three

  1. What a beautiful book! I know several people who would definitely enjoy this. Thank you for sharing. I am constantly on the lookout for children’s literature that do not just depict the usual, the traditional, or the stereotypical. This is definitely a must-read. Will look out for this book.

  2. Oh, I love your selection. It sounds like a beautiful story with warm illustrations. I am glad there is an animal book that addresses the subject of different kinds of families. I was surprised it was a true sory. Nice way to introduce young kids to non-tradtional familes in such a loving way. Great choice.

  3. Wonderful book! I’ve heard of it, but hadn’t seen it. Now I’ll definitely look for it — I so appreciate that it shows a non-traditional family, and love the fact that it’s a true story and that the zoo staff were sensitive to the needs of the two male penguins and gave them the chance to be parents to a real baby penguin instead of just a rock. Thank you, Joanna!

  4. This is indeed a lovely story Joanna. It has a powerful message and I also love the clean clear illustrations. I am sure we must have this in our libraries over here.

  5. It sounds like a beautiful story. Love the cover!

  6. Joanna, this is a wonderful book. We have it in our library-I have had one parent complain to me that it did not “fit” their family values and she didn’t want her son to have it. I keep this book on the shelf, because I feel it is a valuable addition to our collection. Censorship is one of the biggest issues that librarians face-particularly in the public school setting. Parents can challenge books, and oftentimes they win. I have had complaints regarding several books, but no challlenges yet.

  7. Susanna says:

    You already know I love this book! I’m so glad you chose it. It will make a wonderful addition to our list. And what could be cuter than those penguins…. except maybe Knut 🙂

  8. I knew this was a banned book, but I didn’t know much else about it. What a wonderful way to broach the subject of diversity in family life with children. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Joanna says:

    Thank you all!

    @ Kelly, while we must certainly respect a parent’s individual wishes, I am so glad you are taking a stand against censorship in your school library. This is one of the hardest challenges for librarians!

  10. This is a great book about acceptance and I like how it’s based on real penguins!

  11. I haven’t read this one, but love the idea of different families being represented in stories (because they certainly exist in real life).

  12. This is one of our very favorite books on what makes a family. Love! We had one teacher come into our shop who spotted the book and told us about her experience with it in the classroom. It led to great conversations about all the different kinds of families represented in that one room. Wonderful!

    • Joanna says:

      Craig, this is also one of my absolute favorites. Penguins, zoos, true, parental love, adopted baby… it’s a great story and as you say, I have used it for some fabulous discussion with kids. Thanks for commenting!

  13. Yes, this is a wonderful book. The sweet tender expressions on the cover are priceless! I had no idea it was banned – makes me MAD. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. Love your new header, btw. I feel one of those ears is gonna twitch back…any second now…

  14. Lori Degman says:

    Thanks for the great review, Joanna! I’d seen this book but never read it! I’m definitely going to add it to my library!!

  15. Pingback: Gay Pride Month PB, MG and YA Book Recommendations | Miss Marple's Musings

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