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. L64

    Sometimes l think we've gotten to smart for our own good.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      do you mean too smart, two smart, or to smart?

      April 12, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. dallas

    Love idsstl's comment about reading the book to his school children.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rod C. Venger

    I think I'll write a book about my Mom's old poodle, from when I was a child, that had a peculiar attachment to my right leg...

    April 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Marinator

      No one will stop you from writing it, and you are free to try to sell it to publishers. Good luck with that.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. Colin

    What do Martin Luther, Jean-Paul Sartre, Voltaire, John Calvin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal and Copernicus all have in common?

    You guessed it, each one of them had works censored and banned by the Catholic Church.

    What did Adolf Hitler, Herman Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Benito Mussolini, Tojo, and Starlin all have in common?

    Nothiong they ever wrote was.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • EF5

      That's deep!

      April 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • skippy

      Colin, Hitler wrote mein kampf, now weather that qualifies as literature or not is debatable, but he did write a book.

      April 12, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • skippy

      colin, just reread your comment, yes your right! sorry, no coffee this morning.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • O

      Hitler and the catholic chucrh had a deal,. Look at this...
      Hitler met the representative of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabrück, on April 26. At the meeting, Hitler declared:

      “I have been attacked because of my handling of the Jewish question. The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc., because it recognized the Jews for what they were. In the epoch of liberalism the danger was no longer recognized. I am moving back toward the time in which a fifteen-hundred-year-long tradition was implemented. I do not set race over religion, but I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the Church, and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.”

      April 12, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • O

      Got this info from wikki-p

      April 12, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. L64

    That would explain a lot, Rod.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. L64

    Colin, that's actually very interesting.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. luctus

    I like how people equate public library with school library. Most schools even colleges do not let random people into them so why put them in the same boat? Also who let's their young child go to the library by themselves. Sounds like a kidnapping waiting to happen.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. skyhowl

    stans commment about leaving america and moving to an open-minded progressive country was awesome. Im sick of america, backwards thinking, intolerent ways....i think i'll consider leaving and raising my children elsewhere as well.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    I really don't understand what all these people are so afraid of. This seems like a wonderful story that is just trying to make some confusing situations(to children) easier to understand. I went through and read every single comment and it made me very sad too see how many people are still against such obvious human rights. Im straight but I support gays and lesbians rights to everything every other american has and obviously we need many more books like this to help educate the future generations so we can finally live in a free country absent bigotry and absent such accepted hatred.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Velo

      I think some of the people that are trying to restrict this book are confused about the situation too.

      I have a hard time with people who attempt to censor things based on their "moral values." It's obnoxious and it infringes on the rights that we have as US citizens to have a free and open system of press. These people that attempt to censor/ban/restrict these types of works are quick to forget the first amendment, but are quick to exercise their right to freedom of religion. It's hypocritical in nature and quite frankly, delusional. I will start respecting religion when those that TEACH it respect the fact that there are many different walks of life and accept those who may not be exactly like them.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. dollyllama

    Apparently there are 400-550 people with way too much time on their hands.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meh

      When they aren't deliberately scouring library shelves for subjects which hurt their sensitive souls, they ae burning other books on evolution.

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

      When they aren't deliberately scouring library shelves for subjects which hurt their sensitive souls, they are burning other books on evolution. Too much time and a delusions of grandeur.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David

    Anyone notice that their relationship failed? But wait, wasn't he born that way? The two men should write another childrens book about how one penguin came to his senses and now mates with a female penguin. Now THAT would prove this wasn't a pro-gay book aimed at children, which is what the author claims in the article. Go ahead, call me names because that's what we do in this country when we don't agree.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I was tempted to try and teach a little bit about the world but ive realized its too late. too bad ur parents didnt have this book to read to you when you were a child. How bout you pay attention to the bible every once and a while and accept others for who they are and not what you want them to be.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      How about a book about 2 hetero penguin couples who walk down the aisle and swear to God that they will stay married "until death do us part" and one of the couples lied to God? Realistic lesson for humans.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • NO

      Bob, according to the Bible "gays are an abomination" ... nothing of the type of message you mention of accepting people for who they are ... in fact, if you don't accept Jesus, the Bible pretty much doesn't accept you back ... so the Bible is quite limited in its acceptance of who people are or need to be, if you have read it that is ...

      April 12, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Well your bible actually does say what i said, and thanks for making a point that I wasnt going to make. As you pointed out, the translation of the bible does call gays an abomination and it also condones slavery and calls for the dehumanization of women as well. So go ahead and believe in your narrow interpretation of a book that tried to teach you people morals but failed.

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

      Devastating point David. Especially since penguin behavior and human behavior go hand in hand.

      April 12, 2011 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Marinator

      "Go ahead, call me names" Aw, if you insist. You are a dunce and probably have mommy issues as well.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    Yeah, so this sounds like an interesting book. But Everyone Poops is the most epic children's book ever written by man. Everything else is poop.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marrenby

      @Steve – Everybody Poops come second to "The Gas we Pass."

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

      @Steve – Everybody Poops comes second to "The Gas we Pass."

      April 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shady

    Here's an idea! If you don't like a book in your library.... Don't check it out!

    April 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • salvice

      I'm sorry but your argument is much too practical. Self reliance and determination? Such concepts hurt people's heads

      April 12, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
    • SureNoProb

      Right-wing crazies don't believe in personal responsibility... they want the government to control everyone and everything.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. ralk

    What else should kids be taught...

    April 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      ....that there are no such things as gods, particularly from the ancient middle east. You asked.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. So Devine

    I'm wondering when will Bette Midler will make this into a musical?

    April 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
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