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. Harvey

    If you are offended by the book (or any book for that matter); then don't read it. That is your right; it is not your right to deny others access to it.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Leo

    First, the anti-gay folks scream "Hom-os-exuality isn't natural!" Then, when you find the MANY examples of same-gender coupling in nature, they scream, "But those are animals!"

    News flash: Humans are animals. We're primates. To believe anything else is willfully ignorant at best, and delusionally psychotic at worst.

    This is why these folks are so upset by an innocent true story about a pair of penguins. The fact that it happened, and that it completely blasts one of their arguments out of the water, is enough to shake their fragile tower of cards. What they hate most of all is that the book (and the real situation it was based on) showed that the birds had the same "lifestyle" as male-female nesting pairs. All these "lifestyle" arguments get shattered by this image of the well-adjusted pairing, caring for the young, keeping the "home," and doing everything that other nesting pairs do. The hate speech about the "gay lifestyle" is propaganda. The anti-gay bigots know it, and they despise anything that shows it... even if it's something as simple and indirect as a kid's book about a couple of birds.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • XFactor

      And why do you care if someone has a different opinion than you? Last I checked we live in a free country where people can differ in opinion without being attacked. You also speak as if you know with certainty that your way of thinking is "true" and without fault. But did you ever consider that you could be wrong in your thinking? If you were smart, you would question your own ideas and learn...

      April 12, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I agree this is a 'free' country where we can have different opinions but when those different opinions cause other human beings to be treated as subhuman then there is a problem. And yeah we do act as if what we think is true, because obviously all people are equal and should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm any one else. No one should be persecuted because of who they are or who they love.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • XFactor

      Well said Bob. However, let me correct you on something: Just because I don't agree with the gay lifestyle doesn't mean I treat gays as subhuman and persecute them. That's a false assumption and doesn't make sense to me. All humans should be treated equal, but that doesn't "force" me to agree with every single action or choice someone makes. And just because I don't agree with some policies of Obama doesn't make me a crazy right-wing lune – but that's always the assumption by other people.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Ill stop thinking religious people are bigots when they allow gays to marry. simple enough

      April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • XFactor

      Well, you show that you are a bigot by assuming all religious people are bigots. Sounds like you have prejiduce against religion. You contradict yourself with your opinions. You don't make sense.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Yeah but my prejudice is on a choice that you people make not something you are born to be. So theres a big difference there.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff

    Amazing that a true story about animals is too much for the Christian right. If nothing else this shows me they don’t care about the truth and are actively trying to subvert it to push their own agenda.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ridge

    Sorry Dave, but it is fairly common.
    I worked with horses and pony's for years. There was this one gelding that caught the eye of just about every male (gelded or not) we put in the paddock with him. He didn't need rescuing, either. That's just how it was.
    So you encouraged horse on horse sodomy? That's pretty disgusting.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Loretta

    The only comment I or anyone else should make is "if you are opposed to the book, don't read it to your children, and don't read it yourself." Period. End of discussion.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Reese

    Look, if you don't like a book, play, movie or television show just do not watch it. No one is holding a cannon to your head making you do what you do not want to do. Do not try to run some elses life by your values, you have no solid proof that your values are the right ones.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ridge

    Ho mo s are funny. See wild animals do it, so we're in good company!

    April 12, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      If your parents didn't do some of what wild animals do, you wouldn't be here. So what was your point?

      April 12, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jane

    Darn those gay penguins. They're ruining the moral fiber of rookeries everywhere. Blah Blah SCOTUS–Obama–Something Something Communism....why do they hate freedom?

    April 12, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jen

    There's a reason this great nation is falling apart. There are so many people who are persistent on tearing other people down because of what they believe, their religion, their education – the list goes on. Those who harp on others for their opinions or the way they spell something are the ones who end up looking like he idiots.

    I'm all for the book on the two male penguins. Kids see far worse in everyday life. We need to expose our kids to more so they can develop their own opinions and maybe someday they can be a great leader who is educated on many levels.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dim Mak

    Maybe the one penguin wasn't gay, but mentally deficient. He obviously couldn't tell the difference between a rock and an egg. Duh Then the ta-rded bird got dumped for a chick. Lol the chin strap name seems appropriate here.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. XFactor

    It's funny how all of the comments on this post boil down to this: If you believe in God you are automatically a bigot, an "idiot" and hate the whole world. If you don't believe in God, or at least agree with the gay lifestyle, you are smart, informed and love the whole world. Sounds like believing in God and disagreeing with the gay lifestyle makes you a bigot and a hater of all mankind. Kind of funny how people come up with that assumption. Well, then if it's going that way, then people who disagree with God fearing people are persecuters and baby killers. There, does that sound fair?

    April 12, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      No its more like if you believe in God and hate gays then yes you are a bigot, but if you believe in God and dont hate gays or ne one else, since you know thats kinda what the bible is all about, then nah your not a bigot.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • XFactor

      Well, that's totally untrue. From what I'm reading on these posts, if you disagree with the gay lifestyle, you are automatically a bigot. That's always the assumption. Kind of sad.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Well duh xfactor, that comment just proves ur ignorance. A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from their own or intolerant of people of political views, different ethnicity, race, class, religion, or gender. Hope that clears things up for ur bigoted a$$

      April 12, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • XFactor

      Did you not attend school or something? The point I'm making is that people on this post assume your a bigot if you disagree with the gay lifestyle, which is obviously incorrect. That's my point. I'm not being ignorant, just making an "educated" observation. I'm not the ignorant one and the one calling people names. Sounds like you are frustrated because people don't believe like you. Do you need a timeout?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      you just dont get it do you lol. i guess a bigot is very unlikely to admit their a bigot so i dont blame you. once again ill say as soon as u religious nuts allow gays and lesbians to marry with every right a man and a woman have then ill stop calling you bigots, but until then you are a bigot. simple enough.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • XFactor

      You are hilarious. You don't know me or know anything about what I think about gays. I disagree with the gay lifestyle, but I treat gays the same as I would any other human. I disagree with some peoples political views, but that doesn't make me a bigot. Just because I don't agree with tax increases, doesn't make me some kind of political bigot. You are confusing "disagreement" with "bigotry". You need to understand the meaning of words before you use them. Either that or go back to school...

      April 12, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Well sorry if your not as crazy as a lot of the other religious people, i did assume that because you said u disagreed that you wouldn't support giving them equal rights including marriage in a church and adoption rights, etc. But if do support all that then I apologize to you, but not the rest of them.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. antlermom

    It is up to the parent to sensor what their child reads. I take my children to the library often. Once again, someone wants to rob me of my responsibilities of educating my children. Bring it on, blasphemers. I'm strong enough~ are you? And God help whoever needs to confront a child with lifestyle choices. Responsible parenting is what is missing from your arguements. I don't need help editing my kids' literature. And I'm amuzed by the comments from the confused and ignorant "liberals". Think for yourselves

    April 12, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Lol think for yourselves. Thats what the so called ignorant liberals have done, they stopped just buying into a corrupt religion with its own agenda that tells you how to feel and what to think, and used their brains to realize what was right and wrong. I feel for your children and hope to god that they have some decent teachers at school to make up for the "teaching" that comes from you.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jonathan Swindle

    It's things like this that make me feel disgusted to call myself an American. I'm sick of the ignorance and blatant attempts to remain ignorant in this country. The intolerance is detrimental to our societies growth.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. paul

    Great, now the religious nuts are trying to bring Christianity to the Penguins. Morons! These are animals that because they lacked a mate saved another. Survival is the key not whether they are gay penguins or not.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. jojoisconfused

    Seeing as how I was brought up Catholic I have a serious confusion at this time in my adult life. I have a large amount of friends that are Gay and Lesbian. I love them all and find no difference or difficulty in having them as friends and will come to their defense when the occasion presents itself. I myself and straight and married and on my 3rd child. I know that one day my oldest may ask why her godfather lives with another man, and I would love to have a book or something to help me explain the dynamic. In Youth we are accepting of everyone and do not question much. It is our elders who give us our opinions of the world and if our youth is being raised by a generation of bigots, racists and people filled with hate that is what our young will become....My parents taught me love and accept everyone and I teach my children the same. However in church a couple years ago our Priest began his weekly talk about the wrongs of being gay and why we should vote against gay marriage...I was so upset I wanted to get up and walk out...We are taught that our God is forgiving and loves allllll his childrenand suddenly there is a clause that says ***unless you are gay? Color me confused...I go to church still..but in my mind, my Lord is the one who DOES love ALL his children and will take them ALL. To his kingdom someday not just the straight ones...The people commenting on here who profess to be Christians and yet still codemn gays and lesbians should not even be allowed to use the word. Religion is based on love, acceptance, forgiveness and peace. Maybe you should open and read your bibles instead of using the to beat people with.....just sayin...

    April 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Thank you for existing. Why cant more religious people realize what you have? I just dont get it.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
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