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. GSA

    This can't be serious! Who would complain about that besides some ultra-religious nutcase.
    I heard the penguins were together as a support group for a new organization called YPTBCP (Young Penguins Touched By Catholic Priests).

    April 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. edge

    Ban that hack Lauren Myracle. This is the first I've heard of her "books". A string of instant messages isn't a book, and while I believe in relating to your audience, I also expect a YA audience to have to rise to the material rather than the material lowering itself like this. The last thing we need is more college freshmen thinking internet shorthand is acceptable written English.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scorp1031

      Those words aren't just internet short hand. Those words are quickly being adopted into the English language. LOL is now in the dictionary.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jotman

    More attention needs to be focused on the colony of rare penguins that were caught in an oil spill. To view two videos of this horrible event, enter my name into a search engine and click the first link.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joey

    In the Galapagos, I saw a male penguin flirting with another male, who wasn't responsive. Our guide described the flirtatious penguin as confused, but he didn't seem confused to me.
    They say that the Devil is everywhere.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Joey: was it the devil who tempted the first penguin, or the devil who convinced the second one to ignore the advances?

      April 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. really?

    Next book they should read: Your husband is way gay.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • atseainaraft

      Oh...must be the new inside report on evangelical ministers! 😉

      April 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ivan

    And yet no one complains about "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. If I ever wanted to burn a book it would be that one!

    April 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • LitTeacher

      Why ban "The Lottery"? It's just a short story. In one of her writings about it, Shirley Jackson said that most of the letters she received after its publication didn't want to know what the story was about. Those readers wanted to know where the lottery was held and if they could go there to watch. Now there's a comment about human nature.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Demara

    Who the heck cares that the couple is same-gender? Jeeze, it's not a sin or anything. People are idiots.

    It's not that it's inappropriate for children. There's no language or any innuendo, it's just the genders of the penguins.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. just to p iss you off

    Yep, just proves that gay can be contagious. These poor Penguins caught it, but at least one of them straightened out and found a cure.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • just to p iss you off

      Poor bas tard must have blown a seal.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Here is my thing and luckily I will stop with you I agree with you. I would also say that until a human can get into the head of a penguin they will never know what a penguin is truly thinking.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LEB

    Uber-religious parents have banned Harry Potter books from some libraries, yet they themselves believe in talking bushes and snakes, ghosts, winged beings with supernatural powers, spontaneous appearance of enough water to flood the world and sea partings... sounds like magic to me.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lacey

    The reason Catcher in the Rye and Huckleberry Finn were not on list is that they are no longer read in public schools (in my town, anyway). Teachers assign what they are required–politically correct crap. American kids are ignorant because we make them that way.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • squealy

      Best comment on the article is by you, Lacey! So true!!

      April 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cteem


    April 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. smtwnguy

    Wonderful-- they gave an egg that had been abandond( by straight penguins) they hatched it and raised it !!!! Seems to be the same solution gays are doing for our society now, raising the unwanted children of straight people. Bravo for them,and it makes the book well worth reading !!!!

    April 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mmmmm

    Whatever happened to those happy children books that are morally intact ending...and those where they live happily ever after 🙁 and adult swim has even molested even the traditonal tv it ever going to end?!?!?!

    April 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barnacle Bill

      Morally intact ending....?

      Gawd you're pathetic.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      yes moral...good triumphs over evil...good guy triumphs gets the girl and rides off in the sunset...the bad
      a--zz bad seed child gets struck by lightening...fool!

      April 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • eldono

      Remember, the penguin story was a true story. It only ends when we get honest with ourselves and stop seeing reality as bad.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      What reality are you creating these traditional stories let you know that bad choices have bad consequences!

      April 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • irene

      Who gave you the right to decide what choices are good and bad for others anyway?

      April 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Sounds moral to me–they could have just cracked the egg (i.e. aborted it).

      April 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      @Irene I could ask you the same thing...

      April 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • irene

      Nice try: Nobody is deciding that you should read the book. This would not be an issue if you didn't decide that the rest of us should not have access to it. Again, who gives you the right to decide what the rest of us should be able to read?

      April 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • LitTeacher

      Have you even read the original versions of Cinderella, The LIttle Mermaid, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? Those stories are absolutely brutal. Disney movies have made those fairy tales into the "happily ever after" versions.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • squealy

      Taking responsibility for raising an abandoned baby seems pretty morally correct to me. . . just sayin'. . .

      April 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eldono

    Ah, yes. We want to EXPOSE people to the truth. Yes, the truth. Are kids afraid of the truth? It sounds like adults are more afraid of the truth than kids are.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      There are realities children need not be exposed to because of their innocence, purity and to preserve their well-being.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. thedirector

    This reminds me of a book that came out in the early '70s (yes, I'm old) called "Nobody Loves a Drunken Indian" about a Native American in Arizona who could get in trouble in a plethora of ways. When the movie was made, starring Anthony Quinn, who did a superb job by the way, it had to be renamed "Flap". We are getting so politically correct that we will be burning any objectionable books and that won't leave much for my new Nook! It sucks to get old, huh.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
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