Top library complaint: Story about same-sex penguin couple
Two male Chinstrap penguins like these formed a real-life romantic attachment which led to a children's book, says The New York Times.
April 11th, 2011
03:28 PM ET

Top library complaint: Story about same-sex penguin couple

It seems like a children's book about penguins hatching a baby at the Central Park Zoo in New York would be a cute story for parents to read to their kids.

"And Tango Makes Three" is such a story, with one twist, the adult penguins are both male.

The book, written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, has once again topped the American Library Association list of the 10 most frequently challenged books.

According to a news release from the ALA: "A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness."

"And Tango Makes Three" is based on a true story about two chinstrap penguins named Roy and Silo. Interestingly, Roy and Silo - after the book was published - split. Silo started hanging out with Scrappy, a female, according to the paper of record on this story, The New York Times. And Roy, the paper said, was just standing in a corner.

Author Justin Richardson told the Times in 2005, he was not broken up by the break-up, adding:

"We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It's no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks."

Still, the book was often publicly challenged for what some said were homosexual undertones. others have said it is inappropriate for children. The book topped the complaint list in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Last year, it was second on the list behind Lauren Myracle's series that includes "ttyl," "ttfn," "l8r" and "g8r."

The list is based on about 400 to 550 complaints a year compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

The No. 2 book this year was "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," a young adults book of fiction based on the real-life experiences of author Sherman Alexie at a predominantly white high school.

Four books including "Catcher in the Rye" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" did not make the list this year.

The list is part of the library association's The State of America's Libraries report.

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soundoff (467 Responses)
  1. Philip

    Where's all the news stories concerning non-controversial childrens books? We only pretend to care for our child while we are driving them to the bus stop in our new Volvo. We wave guh-buy as the board that zero-star rated death trap of a box rail 1960s tech hooptie. And now we're doing the same thing...with childrens books. And it'll work too. In a generation or two, even children will think it's Christian to have man-on-man action.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      In a generation or two, hopefully children will think it's normal that SOME people are attracted to people of the same gender. It's kind of like children thinking that slavery is wrong even when the Bible supports it.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meh

      How do you know what behaviour is "Christian"? The bible was written by men, that's why they wrote in the bible that they could have multiple wives and women were "concubines"- i.e. lesser beings (all so they could get away with anything in real life).

      April 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Interestingly the Bible also supports the idea that you own what you create. God owns his creation, and a father owns his child. In fact I'm supposed to be struck with such a sense of love that God the Father would give his possession, his Only Child, to be gruesomely tortured to death for no cause of his own. As if that somehow negates the fact that someone else murdered someone else. It all makes zero sense and it's actually anti-freedom, but who's going to notice. I for one will let my child grow up to be themselves, trying my best to prepare them mentally to make their own decisions.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Meh

    Don't like the book, don't borrow it. Simple. There are plenty more real controversial subjects in the World to poke your noses into.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Being Gay Is Not A Choice

    Well if you don't like it, fire God, or GTFO the planet and leave your space suit. It's not the library's fault that creatures and humans are created gay. Believe me if I had a choice I would not be gay, I hate it. What I don't understand is why God picked me to be gay and not someone else, I think I would be much happier married with kids, but no I don't get that option no do I. I have to suffer social persecution, and don't get the same social benefits as someone thats str8. Thanks God... So all you people that think it's a choice, get real, I would have never in my wildest dreams chose to be the way I am that ios, if I had a choice.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      Don't let the 'phobes get to you. Education is slowly eliminating them. The future is obvious and they will fade away. Don't forget that the same Bible they use to put you down, also supports slavery and the inferiority of women. That's their problem. Don't let it be yours.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tinesia

      Love and accept who you are, and be happy with who you are, for if your not how can anyone else?

      April 12, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • NoOne

      thanks for your honest input ... keep the fight strong ... there are a plenty of people out there that are your family, gay or straight, they love you ... don't let the current-majority future-minority get to you ... it's only a matter of time before another fight against bigotry will be won ... remember when Women could not vote, etc ...

      April 12, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      a. Accept yourself. b. You are in very good company. Look into it. Lots of brilliant gay people throughout history. c. There are no gods, so stop saying that the imaginary god of the ancient middle east chose you to be gay. That sounds ridiculous. Look into that, too.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • LarryP

      Remember Kinsey's research and his scale, he put us all on a scale from 0 to 6 with 0 being hetro and 6 gay. After interviewing of thousand people from all over the country he found that most of us were somewhere in the middle. Most of these people that hate gays are probably 2s or 3s and somewhat self loathing.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Marinator

      If you think it's a choice, please put on a dress and go out to a gay bar. Choose to be gay. Let us know how it works out for you.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Skeptic

    If everyone turns gay we won't have this problem. May it be so.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Marinator

      You first.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. anahadwolves

    This brouhaha reminds me of one of the greatest oxymoronic phrases in history: "Catholic higher education". because, if it conflicts with Catholic dogma, dogma supercedes intelligent discourse, scientific achievement and actual learning. They still haven't forgiven poor old Galileo who made them all look like fools when he proved that the earth was NOT the center of the universe...contrary to Catholic dogma. They are so terribly afraid that people will think for themselves and not obey them; it is, after all, all about control.

    I'm a religious person myself and yet God gave me a brain with which to think and to analyze. I don't believe that being religious automatically suspends one's ability to learn, to grow nor to process information dispassionately. So what if two male penguins bonded to take care of an egg? Is that a good reason for religious zealots to try to ban a book? Galileo would probably mutter..."Not again!"

    April 11, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin

      The Catholic Church did admit that Galileo was right. In 1992.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. msaprilr

    Wait, so they left a bunch of male penguins in a pen with no females. Everyone knows that penguins of both genders have a strong parenting urge. Fathers and mothers both participate heavily in the hatching and raising of chicks. It's their instinct. Poor fellas just opted to make do with what they had. Now they've got lady friends. Quit calling them gay. They were just trying to have a family.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      a. There's nothing wrong with being gay. b. Look into it. The penguins had a "romantic" relationship prior to adopting the baby.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jillian

    I read plenty of books as a kid where my mother did not agree with the subject matter – or the theories put forth by the book. Her job, at which she excelled, was to monitor what I was reading and discuss it with me when I was done. What it taught me, what she approved of and did not approve of. And I was free to agree / disagree. The onus falls on the parent, not the library. But ultimately, don't you want your kids to be as educated as possible, and ultimately make their own decisions – right or wrong – that will lead them in to adulthood? Or do you really want a litter of lockstep mini-me 's? I would think part of protecting your kids would be exposing them to as much as possible while you're still around to explain it to them – rather than keeping them so thoroughly shielded from everything so that when they do venture out on their own they're just hit with a barrage of crap that they can't comprehend.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tinesia

    No I'm not morman, and it doesn't matter to me one way our another how anyone lives their lives, I learn from my own mistakes and seeing others learn from theirs. By no means am I saying being gay is right or wrong, the same as a black and white couple together its right or wrong...I don't believe anyone has a right to judge any other human being on how they live their life. I do work for a living I have 3 children to raise...I think its sad that or world has come to this...I have my own beliefs about God...and Jesus. And I believe its every individual rights to their own believes...that does not make me morman nor catholic. If I teach my kids being gay is wrong...I'm teaching my children how to hate and for what? So they can grow up hating themselves...I teach my children to love and accept people for who they are. And always stand up for what you believe. I do not believe God put us on this Earth to be judged and prosecuted just to live in shame then to send us to hell, man lying with man, and woman laying with woman goes back way back when... My hats are off to the brave ones who stand up for what is right...and that is to love each other as you would your self, and judge no one other than your self. If that makes me a moran, stupid, lazy, wow, then hopefully this can give you a better insight.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      Your spelling tells us that you are not a well-read individual, and therefore have no business posting your so-called opinion on a public message board. You're wasting our time. I stopped reading your post about half-way through because you write like a fourth-grader. But if you are who you say you are, all I can say is that I feel sorry for those three kids.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Dubhly

      Sorry YBP, but your a troll, who has not really done much in the thread then to insult people you feel are beneath you. This shows how low you actually are to be unable to respond to the thread itself, rather then nit pick what you feel are defects in others. No matter how a person sounds or is educated they have the RIGHT to sound off and give their opinions. I am sorry you feel that yours outweighs others, from what i have seen you do not have much of an opinion. Rather you have a need to attack people. I would suggest some help for your anger management problem. Maybe some behavioral cognitive therapy, and some anti anxiety pills. Please stop trolling though.
      That said, the extreme christians will continue to believe what they want, and i fully support that. I, however, take great disagreement with their attempts to push their lifestyle on my family, or myself. Since christianity is like islam, in that they are required to force their religion on others, this will always be a problem.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. George K

    Why can't it be like a hundred years ago when people complained about were books about 2 black people raising a child being in their white library. Our generation will be remembered the same.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Laquita

      As a blackwoman, I cannot agree more. Women, blacks, now gays. You know how appalling it is to us to think women and blacks were once oppressed? Unfortunately, we will be in the history books the same way.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew

    Dear CNN,

    Please send this story to a copy editor. Way too many punctuation and grammatical errors to merit publication on your website.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      Get a hobby, Andy.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • SureNoProb

      @YBP-YOU need a hobby, you hypocritical a$$. I've already read TWO useless grammar flames from you, one incorrectly castigating a poster for using the word aggravate in a way you did not understand was correct, and another pointing out the poster used the word "to" instead of "too"

      You a foo

      April 12, 2011 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. YBP

    Why would parents want to keep kids in the dark about same gender relationships? They don't want it to rub off? They don't want their kids to "turn." Please. Don't we all know (from our own experience) that one either is or isn't. You can't choose to be someone you're not. You can't choose not to be who you are. Parents don't have to talk about the mechanics of "doing it" to expose their children to the reality of same-gender relationships at a very early age. Raising children in the belief systems of the ancient middle east is absolutely abusive. Children do not have religious beliefs. They repeat what they are taught. Even if it's nonsense. And it takes years to shake off that kind of conditioning (which is my polite way of saying ignorance and prejudice).

    April 12, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. bob

    thank god the religious right is here to protect our children from gay penguins...

    April 12, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mely SP

    There is a good explanation why this book was top on the list... All of the progressive people in this country get their children books off of an ipad or Kindle. Who goes to a library? Those who live in the past and cant accept natural progression.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Meh

      I still go to the library and I don't have a problem with this book. BTW technology is not a "natural progression".

      April 12, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jeffrey1234

    And Tango Makes Three is an excellen book and I have been reading to my seven year old since he was 4.
    Highly recommemded!

    April 12, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. Liutgard

    With all of the _genuine_ problems we face in our world, these people choose to spend their time and energy arguing over a library book? Don't they have anything better to do?

    April 12, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
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