Friday, November 23, 2012

And Tango Makes Three

Title: And Tango Makes Three
Authors: Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Copyright Date: 2005
Genre: Non-fiction
Theme: Families, animals, penguins, homosexuality
Grades: PreK-3
Awards: ALA Notable Children's Book Nominee, ASPCA Henry Bergh Book Award  
Winner, Bank Street Best Books of the Year (source)


In the Central Park Zoo there are many families. While most of the couples are made of a boy and a girl animal, Roy and Silo were two boy penguins who are in love and became a couple. When it came for the other penguin families to have children, Roy and Silo made a nest and worked to have a family of their own; even sitting on a rock in the hopes that it would hatch.

Will Roy and Silo ever have a family like the other penguin couples and what will Mr. Gramzay the zookeeper do with the extra egg he found? Read this book to find out. 

Pre-reading Activity

This book offers a great opportunity to teach about a family structure not always talked about with young children. Before reading the book, it might be good to have a quick discussion about different types of families the class might already be familiar with. Have the class help you make a list of different famil groups the students may have, such as a mother and father, single parent, foster parent, adopted parents, living with grandparents, being raised by a sibling, living with extended family, etc. 

It is important to point out that not only are every one of these families is completely okay but they have more things in common than they have differences. They have adults and children who love each other and work together to make their each others' lives happy.

Post-reading Activity

After reading and listening to this story once, it would be nice to have students make a Venn diagram comparing their own family to Roy, Silo, and Tango's. This may require a mini-lesson on Venn diagrams and/or a second read through so they can pick up on more details.

After their graphic organizers are completed, have students write a paragraph about how the two families are alike and different. 

Author and Illustrator

Along with being a writer, Justin Richardson works at Columbia and Cornell Universities as an assistant professor of psychiatry. He is the co-author another children's book (Christian the Hugging Lion), along with writing for adults in New York Times columns and the book, Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They'd Ask). He currently lives in New York with Peter Parnell. (Source: book jacket and here)

Peter Parnell is the co-author of two children's books (the other being Christian the Hugging Lion) but is also a successful playwright. His works have appeared on and off-Broadway (QED being his latest theatrical work) and he has also worked in television as a writer for Little Bear and as a producer for The Guardian and The West Wing. He currently lives in New York with Justin Richardson. (Sources: book jacket and here)

Henry Cole started out as an elementary teacher before becoming a full time writer and illustrator. He has worked on over fifty books including serving as the illustrator for Alyssa Satin Capucilli's Katy Duck series and  the author and illustrator of his own books like Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad and The Littlest Evergreen. He currently lives in Washington D.C. (Sources: book jacket, here, here and here)


This book is controversial to say the least. It can be found on many schools' banned book lists because it deals with a topic that not everyone agrees on, same-sex couples and parents. This book doesn't deserve the  negative stigma that comes with being labeled banned. It shows a same-sex couple in an incredibly sensitive way, as two men who love each other and like being with each other. This would make a great introduction for students or even your children to these types of couples in an age appropriate way. Best of all, the entire story is true. I highly recommend this book, if not in your classroom, at least in your personal library. 

If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this book. I have not read this book before, but I will definitely be checking it out. What a great way to introduce different family structures to children. I like how the book uses animals, it seems that children can relate to them more than humans sometimes. Thank You!!!

    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked it; I know I really do. Before using it your classroom, it might be good to clear it with the school and possibly families. Although it shouldn't be controversial to talk about families with same-sex parents, sadly it may lead to controversy. Best to be on the safe side and not have it be a surprise.