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. cihb

    Thats really awesome 😀 I love seeing that stuff <3 so cute.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Fuyuko

    In my day it was the Judy Blume books. Now it is gay penguins. Personally, if you don't like gay penguins, don't pick up the story. Problem solved.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ???

    Yeah...that is the top reading/literature issue in the U.S.

    Who cares about declining education levels. We have to get rid of gay penguins!

    April 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. buster

    Did anybody else find it ironically humorouse that a book about gay penguins is co-authored by two men that have the slang form of p3nis in their names (Justin RICHARDson and PETER Parnell [Richard=Dick])

    April 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      No, but maybe a 14 year old will be along any minute.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • squealy

      Dennis! Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Good one!!

      April 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TBeef

    How do they know that the Penguins weren't mentally challenged and didn't know any better?

    April 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alex-Michael Skott

    Madeline E' Lenge / A Swiftly tilting planet

    April 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Will

    Can most of the pigfuсking bible belt inbreds who complain about "gay penguins" read anyway? Are they even literate?

    April 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • just to p iss you off

      Awww, you're just mad because daddy loved you just a little too much and you secretly enjoyed that game of hide Mr. Potato Head™ he used to play with you when mommy wasn't around.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TBeef

    I thought the Penguins broke up and starting going straight.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Commenting on an article without reading it. That is a F for you Mr.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    Until humans can get into the head of a penguin they will never know what he is thinking. We only know what humans are thinking. Yes, I know I am ruining discussions all across the board. It proves if the penguin is gay that there is self-determination to change from gay to straight. Either that or what we think is the case in a penguin is really not. I was really not having flirting with Joey over there, but these humans are so close to us maybe we should close in for a picture because we are bff's.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis


      April 11, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      We don't what other humans are thinking. And, after reading your comment, I don't think you know what you are thinking.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TrudyBird

    I have two male cats that have been neutered. They seek out each other's company, play together, eat together and lick

    h other's fur. OMG! I even have pictures of them on the couch TOGETHER! I had no idea I was the owner of a couple of cats that might offend the sensitivities of the pure at heart. I can't believe the small mindedness of some people.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Effie

    This is one of the top stories of the day??? Maybe we should worry more about the extinction of both gay and straight penguins if global warming continues to eat away at their habitat. But I worry that the folks who are concerned about contaminating their childrens' minds with stories of gay penguins are also the same folks who will say "WHAT global warming??? It's not there. It's all a political agenda." I say ignore those folks, enjoy the book, and take care of the fragile Earth so we and the penguins can continue to enjoy our lives.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Well if you back on this just in there's an article about naked penquins and a picture of one looking like Phyllis diller!

      April 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • lana

      well, thinking that mating is for fun and produsing offspring is a chice will end the penguin scieces way before the global warming. If i will learn that mating with a rock can produce a child, i will mate with a rock. This is what life is all about –> creating life. It is way too selfish for me to think that mating is something i can do for fun only.Our parents gave us life and we should cary it on be creating new life. Period. Anything else is too selfish.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JoeT

    Simple explanation: penguins were kicked off the ark when they set off Noah's gay-dar. And that's why Satan evolved them into aquatic birds. Can I please have my tax-exmpt status now?

    April 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve Bishop

    Oh give me an effen break! If you don't like the book....DON'T READ IT.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Here's your "break" dude! It's like buying a bottle of milk for you child to consume and you find out after the fact it's a bottle of intentionally mislabeled white russian...yes the child may live but it'll be fukEd up!

      April 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Robear in Ojai

    People have to give kids their due. They understand a whole lot more and are a whole lot more accepting of diversity than we give them credit for. Unless they've already been brainwashed with hatred and bigotry, that is. Some years ago I purchased that book "And Tango Makes Three" for the benefit of my nephew and niece who were reaching the age where they were asking questions about their two uncles (me and my lifelong partner). I consulted with the parents first, who OK'd it. Sent it as part of a Christmas package.

    Mom, why did uncle R. and uncle D. send the Tango book?

    Maybe they're trying to tell you something...

    Are they like the penguins?

    What do you think?

    I think they really like each other. Are they going to have a baby?

    I don't think so.

    I really like baby penguins...

    END OF STORY! Now, 5 years later, both are in their early teens and are completely comfortable with their uncles. They love my partner to pieces and pounce on him every time we visit. I believe that the book provided the kids and their parents with a forum to discuss this topic in a natural way. Simple questions, simple answers. No less, no more.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeT

      You know you're going to penguin-hell, don't you?

      April 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gas Giant

    Oooooo, the budget, jobs, gas prices, terrorism, natural disasters! What this country should be really concerned about is the MENTAL DEFICIT

    April 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
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