“And Tango Makes Three” Tops List of Banned Books


This week is Banned Books Week, and we’re celebrating by showcasing various books which have been censored for a variety of reasons. Celebrate this week by picking up one of these books and reading.

The Central Park Zoo in New York has an unlikely but lovable pair of animals.  This is a true story.  It is so charming that Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell teamed up with well-known illustrator Henry Cole to create a children’s book out of the story.  They called it “And Tango Makes Three.”  It is nothing short of delightful.

It has been on the banned books list since it was published in 2005.  It is usually listed as the number one most-banned title, although one year went fell to second place.

Roy and Silo are a pair of chinstrap penguins who reside in the penguin quarters.  When the girl penguins noticed the boy penguins and when the boy penguins noticed the girl penguins, Roy and Silo, two boys, noticed each other.  They bowed and sang to each other and made a nice nest.  But it was a little empty.  They then noticed that the other Penguins couples could do something they could not do.  They tried and tried, even rolling an egg shaped rock and sitting on it for hours, but they could not hatch it.

One of the zookeepers noticed, and when another penguin couple produced two fertile eggs, he gave one of the m to Roy and Silo.  The odds of having two fertile eggs raised to adulthood by one couple are slim.  Twins are hard everywhere, it seems.

Roy and Silo knew ‘just what to do” and kept the egg warm, turning it over and over so all sides would benefit, and finally, their daughter Tango arrived. (Get it? Because it takes two to make a Tango?).  Her fathers fed her and sang to her and snuggled her warm at night.

“She was the very first penguin to have two daddies.”

And there it is, the line that prompted the ban.

This book talks about love, and family, and the heartbreak of being childless.  It talks about families who are not conventional and who love each other anyway.  Indeed the inside fly cover reads: “In the zoo there are all kinds of families.  But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.”

Now, as far as I could research, Tango, Roy and Silo are still a happy family.  It took the kindness  of a zookeeper, and an extra egg to create it.  It makes me wonder what would happen if there were kind zookeepers in the wild.  Maybe Tango would not have been the first penguin with two daddies, or two mommies.

The concept of homosexuality is the reason for the ban.  Except the book isn’t about that, and it is now on my bookshelf, where any of my friends can read it, no matter their age. Children between the ages of six and nine have definite ideas about gender roles, but are willing to accept the idea of two daddies, or two mommies, or one mommy or one daddy.  This is 2011. They live with all different kinds of families now.

I showed it to a 13-year-old friend of mine, and he flipped through the pages trying to find the reason for the ban.  He couldn’t do it.  He didn’t see anything wrong with Roy and Silo. I am so grateful for that, and hope that many more kids see this book the same way.  Better yet, that their parents do.


Related Stories:

Banned Books Week Is Coming! Name Your Favorite

Books Banned For “Contradicting the Bible”

Prison Libraries Ban Literature, Raise Controversy


Photo credit: March of the penguins free stills


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thanks for the information.

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Carole R.
Carole R6 years ago


BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

The Catholic Church banned Galileo's book, The Starry Messenger, that said that the Earth wasn't the center of the Universe; that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the other way.
{Unbelievably, the Catholic Church STILL hasn't made up its mind about Evolution!}

We CAN'T have stories that are true, biologically and scientifically, about observed same-sex behavior in animals. HERESY!

I don't understand how people who DIS-BELIEVE in Science can bring themselves to drive cars, use electric lights, believe doctors' X-rays..... not to mention use phones and computers!
If Science is all so WRONG.........! :-]

Christopher M.
Christopher M.7 years ago

Shelley P. The penguins are not sexual, so the parallel of gay family does not apply. They might as well be best friends, Barney and Fred, or Bert and Ernie, raising a baby. Or like Three Men and a Baby.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin7 years ago

Isn't this great? The religious right/repukes/teabags want to ban reality! What a concept! "We don't like the real life and stories about it so we ban in and pretend it never happened because it isn't coinciding with our beliefs". In the name of humanity: Stop those morons from having any power whatsoever!

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S7 years ago

Funny how anti-LGBT people are so against nature even though their primary argument for being anti-LGBT is that it's "unnatural".

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush7 years ago

It sounds like a delightful and enlighening story. It is a perfect opportunity for parents to explain the facts of life to their children.
If some lunatic has an assumption, that reading this story, will make their child, homosexual, there is nothing you can say, to convince them otherwise. This way of thinking is so delusional, that reasoning is impossible.

This is so typical of the GOP, as they make decisions out of FEAR. They fear more things, than there are things to fear.

Victoria M.
Past Member 7 years ago

thanks !

Glen P.
Glen P7 years ago

A stark example of how ever allowing religious views to dictate or control humanity is a serious danger to liberty, freedom, and knowledge.