And Tango Makes Three
First edition cover of And Tango Makes Three
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing|
|April 26, 2005|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|LC Class||PZ10.3.R414 Tan 2005|
And Tango Makes Three is a children's book written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole which was published in 2005. The book tells the story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who create a family together. With the help of the zookeeper, Mr. Gramsay, Roy and Silo are given an egg which they help hatch. The female chick, that completes their family, is consequently named "Tango" by the zookeepers. The book was based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins who fell in love in New York's Central Park Zoo.
And Tango Makes Three has been mentioned in numerous censorship and culture war debates on same-sex marriage, adoption, and homosexuality in animals. The ALA reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most frequently challenged book from 2006 to 2010, and the second most frequently challenged in 2009. However, while it is controversial, the book has been advocated for by scholars for its ability to introduce the idea of homosexuality easily in classroom and home settings. It has also won multiple awards, including the American Library Association, ALA, Notable Children's Book Nominee in 2006, the ASPCA Henry Bergh Book Award in 2005, and was named one of the Bank Street Best Books of the Year in 2006.
- 1 Background
- 2 Summary
- 3 Publication History
- 4 Genre
- 5 Analysis
- 6 Response
- 6.1 Positive Reception of And Tango Makes Three
- 6.2 Book Challenges
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 See also
- 9 References
The story was inspired by two male penguins, Roy and Silo, at the Central Park Zoo. During mating season each penguin began pairing with another. The plot of And Tango Makes Three parallels exactly the real life story of Roy and Silo. The story eventually reached the couple of Peter Parnell, a playwright and children's book author, and Justin Richardson, a psychiatrist focusing on the sexual development of children. While reading about the two penguins in a story featured in "The New York Times" the story appeared to be perfect for a children's novel, according to Richardson. The couple, Parnell himself a writer, had interest in telling a story that had positive messaging surrounding homosexual couples. Furthermore, Parnell stating that the book is not necessarily about being homosexuality but "celebrating family coming in all forms", with Roy and Silo's homosexuality never fully addressed but rather mentioning that the two penguins were close "like family". Finding that many parents had trouble introducing the concept of homosexuality to their children, the couple thought a book such as "Tango" would make the conversation easier, and create a more inclusive environment for future generations. When actually working on the book itself, Richardson commented on how the subject material would be inviting to kids as stories about animals are seen as fun and inviting. The authors wanted to capture this same feeling so as to make the message of the book feel more subtle and less forced. After the book was published, Richardson made appearances on the shows Good Morning America, CNN, and the Today Show.
The story opens in the Central Park Zoo, a place that houses families of all different kinds. Soon, it is the time of year when all the chinstrap penguins couple up. All of the couples have one female penguin and one male penguin except for Roy and Silo, two male penguins who have fallen in love. They do everything together: they sing, swim, and even build a nest so that they can start a family. The two penguins take turns sitting on a rock, thinking that it is an egg. They wait patiently, but nothing happens. The zookeeper, Mr. Gramsay, notices this and he brings them an extra egg from another penguin couple who would not be able to care for it. Roy and Silo sit on their egg and take care of it until it hatches! The zookeepers name the female chick Tango. When people come to visit the zoo and see Tango and her two fathers, and they cheer. The story ends by reiterating that Roy, Silo, and Tango are a happy family and that families can look different.
- And Tango Makes Three, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, April 26, 2005 ISBN 0-689-87845-1
- And Tango Makes Three, Little Simon, June 2, 2015 ISBN 1-481-44695-9
- And Tango Makes Three, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Kindle edition, June 2, 2015
- And Tango Makes Three, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Audiobook, June 2, 2015
And Tango Makes Three is described as a book containing many illustrations with a non-heterosexual couple and content that is fit for a young audience. For example, the journal "Language Issues" identifies And Tango Makes Three as a "Same Sex Parent Picture Book."  This genre can cause problems because may parents don't want children to read about non-heteronormative families without their control.  Because And Tango Makes Three is based on a true story, there have been questions about the classification of the book as fiction or nonfiction.
The challenge in Savannah, Missouri, discussed in the Response section, was based on whether or not And Tango Makes Three is fiction or non-fiction.Fran Hawk, a former school librarian, stated that And Tango Makes Three was a nonfiction children's book.
Family: The idea that every family looks different is a strong message in the book. It opens by showing all of the families in the zoo, all of which are different species. The authors show that families, while different, are all similar in one way: they are happy together. Roy and Silo work very hard to have a family because they know it will make them happy. No matter how a family looks or comes to be, it is a special thing. As long as the family is happy and healthy, it is natural, the book contends. A review of the book makes the claim that And Tango Makes Three is about "family love and nurturing of children."
Love: Roy and Silo fall in love and are happy together. They know that they would love their baby forever and they want to bring one into the world, which is why they sit on the rock, hoping that their love with produce a baby. The love they have for each other and for Tango is prominent in the book.
Acceptance: The end of the book shows the people who visit the zoo cheering for Roy, Silo, and Tango. The zoo accepts this family and celebrates their love, promoting the idea that the world ought to accept and celebrate families that look different. In a review by Kirkus reviews, Tango was described to have small details of happiness surrounding Roy and Silo in the illustrations of the book. These illustrations help show the acceptance of the non-heteronormative family structure.  Another review of the children's book highlighted the theme of acceptance by saying that the book does not push an agenda of non-heteronormative families but instead represents the idea that not all families look the same. 
Adoption: The book subtly advocates for adoption as it shows that it does not matter how a family is created or whether a child is biologically related to its parents. Roy and Silo are given an egg from another penguin couple and love it just the same. The egg, if it had not been given to them, would have died because Chinstrap Penguins are only able to care for one egg at a time. Tango was saved by her new family. It also explores the idea of surrogacy and how families come together in many different ways.
Tolerance: The support of the zookeeper and other members of the community around Roy and Silo exemplify the idea of tolerance that is shown throughout the book.
Benefits in the classroom
The primary argument for the inclusion of Tango and books like it, ones that strive to introduce children to the subject of homosexuality in an appropriate and accessible way, is to ensure that foster inclusivity for children in same sex families. Literary critics have explored the values of And Tango Makes Three mainly because of its use in classrooms. Jennifer Harvey, a Curriculum Librarian and Assistant Professor at Calvin T. Ryan Library, University of Nebraska at Kearney, wrote a literary criticism where she positioned that the book's diverse makeup and its subsequent lessons adds to its overall value. In the criticism, Harvey states that “since families vary, literature that explores types of families can improve the chances of the reader having a healthy response to non-normative family units, whether their own, or the family of an acquaintance” The inclusion of two male parents is reflective of a typical upbringing in American culture, and Harvey believes that addressing this is beneficial for a classroom setting. Indeed, she argues in favor of the book because it “can increase the likelihood of compassion for difference" Harvey notes that “Institute of UCLA’s School of Law has estimated that a quarter of all same-sex households include children under eighteen. This distribution suggests that children are likely to be aware of families where the parents are same sex. In the event that they do not encounter a family with same-sex parents, they will likely know children raised in families not made up of the child’s biological parents". She contends that families are becoming more diverse and that books like Tango help introduce the subject to children while also fostering a more accepting generation.
The benefit of easy introduction to diversity was not an isolated idea. Many professionals have included And Tango Makes Three as an example of a book that can make introducing the topic of homosexuality easy for children to understand. Dr. Bre Evans Santiago, who holds a PhD in LGBTQ issues, argued for the importance of LGBTQ friendly books. Arguing the idea that when such books are read, a sense of pride will emerge from children with non-traditional families, making them feel more accepted. One book that Evans-Santiago frequently cited was And Tango Makes Three. She goes on to describe how young students in a classroom she studied enjoyed the book. The penguins had become beloved characters in the classroom, and the children always grew excited when Roy and Silo received their egg She claimed that prejudice does not run in children, and if we teach children that something such as same-sex parenting exists, they are less likely to hold bias about the subject.
Janine Schall, an instructor of teacher education, and Gloria Kauffman, a fourth and fifth grade teacher, collaborated and conducted an experiment with thirty fourth and fifth graders and explored how much children understand homosexuality. They found that the majority of the children questioned understood the word “gay” as an insult mostly. They concluded that the introduction to a topic like homosexuality is critical in developing an inclusive environment and recommended including books like Tango in the younger students’ curricula. Karla J Möller, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign encapsulated the issue well when she said, “As librarians and educators, we have a responsibility to fulfill the promise of inclusion for all of our children and their families… To do so, teachers at all levels need the support of literature and literacy professionals in locating, accessing, and using books that feature gay and lesbian individuals and families.
Brianna Burke and Kristina Greenfield, professors at Iowa State University, found that And Tango Makes Three can hold a place of value in higher education as well. While conducting an experiment with the students that required reading the book, the students were pushed to engage with what the message of the book was. They were asked questions such as what their idea was of family, and if that idea may be changed or enhanced from the book. When the students discovered the positive message of the book they then were taught about how and why the book has been so contested. This introduction to the children's book, and backlash it received, gives older students a sense of the issues of heteronormativity in the classroom, and how this discussion can help dismantle harmful ideas of heteronormativity. They also went on to say that students would be able to access an "other'd" perspective more easily through the nonthreatening tone of the picture book.
Positive Reception of And Tango Makes Three
Reviewers say that the positive takeaway from And Tango Makes Three comes from the idea that it helps spark the conversation about “about same-sex partnerships in human society.”  Deborah Stevenson from Johns Hopkins University Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books says that the book is valuable because it prompts discussion about the different types of families possible. Selena E. Van Horn, a doctoral candidate in literacy education at the University of Missouri published a piece titled "How Do You Have Two Moms?" Challenging Heteronormativity While Sharing LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Literature" in the National Council of Teachers of English She suggested And Tango Makes Three as a book to be used to better introduce homosexual acceptance into the classroom. And Tango Makes Three was published in the UK as a result of a study done in the country titled No Outsiders by Dr. Elizabeth Atkinson and Dr. Renee DePalma.Moreover, an article written by Anna Paula Peixoto da Silva, recognized that the inclusion of diverse literature and toys that are reflective of both the male and the female gender as well as "various ages and ethnicities" in an elementary school curriculum, for students who have parents of the same gender would be effective. One of the age-appropriate books recommended for preschoolers was, indeed, And Tango Makes Three. 
Some parents have objected to their kids reading this book because it contains the topic of homosexuality. Homosexuality in animals is seen as controversial by some social conservatives who believe that illustrating animal homosexuality as normal suggests that homosexuality in humans is normal. Others believe that it has no implications and that it is nonsensical to equate animal behavior to that of humans. While many challenges were based on the claim that the use of homosexuality in animals made the book inappropriate, a random focus group found many adults saying that there was nothing explicitly inappropriate with Roy and Silo's relationship as it is portrayed in the book. When asked about the response the book received Parnell and Richardson commented on how the negative feedback disheartened them, but they chose to focus on the positive reception that the book was receiving instead.
The American Library Association (ALA) tracks challenges and censorship cases made against literature in public schools and libraries. It reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most challenged book of 2006, of 2007, and of 2008. The book dropped to the second position in 2009 but returned to the top slot in 2010. The book has reappeared in the top ten on the list in 2012, 2014, and 2017.
Cases resulting in retainment
Some parents of students at Shiloh Elementary School requested in November 2006 for the school to require parental permission prior to checking the book out. One of the parents said: "Please let us decide when our kids are ready. Please let us parent our kids." However, Superintendent Filyaw who originally agreed with the parents, decided instead to keep the book available as it “means you represent different families in a society.”"
Loudoun County, Virginia
In 2008, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick removed the book from general circulation at public elementary school libraries on the basis of a parent's complaint. A parent complained that Tango "promoted a gay agenda" and was an "attack on families headed by heterosexuals." After the parent formally challenged the book, the principal of Sugarland Elementary School put in place an advisory committee of principals, librarians, teachers and parents to review the book. The group deemed it acceptable, and the principal concurred. Following this decision, the anonymous parent made an appeal. Another committee of administrators, librarians and parents reviewed the book, and that committee also recommended that it remain in the collection. Superintendent Hatrick decided to override the decision of the committees and the principal and made the book available only to teachers and parents.
Not long after his announcement, Hatrick received a copy of an inquiry from a School Board member about any legal implications involved in the decision regarding this book. This led Hatrick to review School Board Policy 5-7, which includes the “Procedure for Review of Challenged Materials,” and he found that the procedure was not adhered to. Subsequently, he returned the book into circulation, citing "significant procedural errors that he believes void the process followed in this matter."
In November 2008, parents at a local elementary school asked that for the school to require parental permission prior to checking out the book. Next, they wrote a letter to the newspaper of the city of Ankeny to "warn" other parents about the book. However, in December 2008, the School Board of Ankeny voted 6-1 to keep the book in the libraries as well as to add on an additional process of book review for the school system. During the hearing, the school board's lawyer argued that a decision to remove the book from the shelves, if challenged, would likely not hold up in court.
In April 2007, Stephanie Bramasco, the parent of a 17-month-old child in Lodi, California, requested that the book be removed from Lodi Public Libraries because she felt that the cover of the book, which shows two adult penguins cuddling with a baby penguin, is "deceptive because it does not indicate the adult penguins are a same-sex couple." The library board of directors voted (4-1) to retain the book on the shelves of their library.
Cases resulting in censorship
On February 13, 2006, parents objected to the book's placement at Rolling Hills Consolidated Library and requested a change of assignment within the library stacks. According to Aaron Bailey's article in the St. Joseph News-Press, parents objected to the book's placement in the fiction section, thus insisting that the book be placed in the non-fiction section instead. The book was transferred because "fewer people browse the children's nonfiction section" and "because it was based on the true story of two male penguins that hatched an egg in the New York City Zoo". The permanent move of the book was made on March 4, 2006.
On March 23, 2007, Johanna Habeisen, a library media teacher at Woodland Elementary school received a threatening letter from her principal, Kimberley Saso, because she had the book in her library: "Hopefully you take this matter seriously and refrain from disseminating information that supports alternative styles of living..." Other than the principal and Superintendent Thomas Withal, who had been interrogated from the start, there had been no parental challenge.
In 2012, Parents raised concerns over a book that included a nontraditional family and argued that the book was "advocating homosexuality" which is against Utah state law. After this challenge, librarians working in the schools were prompted to name other books with similar content which could cause controversy. 
In July 2014, Singapore's National Library Board (NLB) announced it would destroy three children's books with pro-LGBT families themes as they saw the titles as being "against its 'pro-family' stance following complaints by a parent and its own internal review." And Tango Makes Three was one of the problematic books. And Tango Makes Three was eventually placed in the adult section instead of being removed, and the NLB announced that their book selection and review processes would be refined.
In June 2018, the "anti-gay rights group", Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, pressed the government against And Tango Makes Three.Access to the book was revoked from the public along with other books which included similar themes. This silence from the government on why the book was removed has led to the belief that the book was removed because of pressure from activist groups. 
Awards and nominations
National Book Awards
- American Library Association Notable Children's Book - 2006: "Each year the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books, recordings, and videos." 
- ASPCA's Henry Bergh Award - 2005
- Gustavus Myer Outstanding Book Award- 2006: The Myers Center reviews and identifies outstanding books written about “Discrimination and Bigotry” each year, in order to find ways to develop equitable future communities and societies. The winners of the Gustavus Myers Award announced on Human Rights Day, December 10, each year.
- Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Book of the Year - 2006
- Bank Street Best Book of the Year - 2006
- Cooperative Children's Book Council Choice, and CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book - 2006
- Sheffield Children's Book Award - shortlisted - 2008
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- "Attempts to remove children's book on male penguin couple parenting chick continue". American Library Association. 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
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- Lea, Richard (2007-05-23). "Richard Lea on the row over a children's book about gay penguins". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
- Sunderland, Jane; McGlashan, Mark (Winter 2015). "Heteronormativity in EFL textbooks and in two genres of children's literature (Harry Potter and same-sex parent family picturebooks)". Language Issues. 26 (2): 17–26.
- Smolkin, Laura (January 2011). "Missing Mirrors, Missing Windows: Children's Literature Textbooks and LGBT Topics". Language Arts. 88 (3): 217–255.
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- Hawk, Fran (2007). "LOCKED UP; Monitoring children's book selections key, but bans squash freedom". The Post and Courier.
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- Möller, Karla,J. "Heather is 25! so, what Literature Featuring Gays and Lesbians is Available for Primary Grades Today?" Journal of Children's Literature 40.1 (2014): 62. Web.
- Harvey, Jennifer. "And Tango Makes Three: Introducing Family Diversity to Children." Children & Libraries 11.3 (2013): 27-33. Education Database. Web.
- Evans-Santiago, Bre; Lin, Miranda (2016). "Preschool Through Grade 3". Yc Young Children. 71 (2): 56–63. JSTOR ycyoungchildren.71.2.56.
- Janine Schall and Gloria Kauffman, “Exploring Literature with Gay and Lesbian Characters in the Elementary School,” Journal of Children’s Literature 29, no.1 (Spring 2003): 36–45.
- Evans-Santiago, Bre; Lin, Miranda (2016). "Preschool Through Grade 3 on JSTOR". Yc Young Children. 71 (2): 56–63. JSTOR ycyoungchildren.71.2.56.
- Van Horn, Selena (2015). ""How Do You Have Two Moms?" Challenging Heteronormativity While Sharing LGBTQ-Inclusive Children's Literature". Talking Points. National Council of Teachers of English. 27 (1): 2–12.
- Atkinson, Elizabeth; DePalma, Renée (January 1, 2009). "Un‐believing the matrix: queering consensual heteronormativity". Gender and Education. Routledge. 21 (1): 17–29. doi:10.1080/09540250802213149.
- da Silva, Paula Peixoto (2014). "Supporting gay and lesbian families in the early childhood classroom". YC Young Children. 69: 40–44.
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- "Top library complaint: Story about same-sex penguin couple". Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- "Banned Spotlight: And Tango Makes Three | Banned Books Week". Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- Suhr, Jim (2006-11-16). "Parents Want Gay Penguins Book Blocked". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
- NCAC Staff (21 February 2008). "And Tango Makes Three Restricted In Loudoun County". National Coalition Against Censorship. Retrieved 14 November 2006.
- Chandler, Michael Alison (2008-02-17). "2 Guys and a Chick Set Off Loudoun Library Dispute". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
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- "Letter Opposing Challenges to 'And Tango Makes Three'". National Coalition Against Censorship. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
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- "Censorship Dateline". Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom. 61 (4): 153–184. July 2012.
- "Singapore national library to destroy LGBT-themed children’s books" Library says three books are contrary to its "pro-family" stance. The AFP, July 2014, TheJournal.ie. "Singapore national library to destroy LGBT-themed children's books". Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
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