Sunday, November 30, 2008

Inclusive Lit: And Tango Makes Three

Richardson, Justin, and Peter Parnell. 2005. And Tango Makes Three. Illus. by Henry Cole. NY: Simon & Schuster for Young People. ISBN: 0689878451.

* A 2006 Association for Library Service to Children’s Notable Children’s Book *

* 2006 Winner of the Lambda Literary Award *

* 2005 Winner of the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Books Award for Fiction Environment and Ecology *

Based on the true story, two male penguins, Roy and Silo, at the New York City’s Central Park Zoo become inseparable and become a family with the hatching of Tango.

And Tango Makes Three is a charming book about the true story of a family with two dads. Authors, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, created a clear and descriptive text to tell the story of Roy and Silo. Children will easily understand how the twosome did everything together, but they could not lay an egg in the nest that they made like all the other penguin couples with a mom. It is also through the text that the readers will learn how penguins love and interact with singing to each and swimming together, how the parent penguins take turns keeping their egg warm and how they care for their young once hatched.

Families are at the heart of the story. At the beginning of the book, the book describes Central Park as a place where families can go to have fun, especially at the zoo where there are animal families. The authors also describe how animal families can be traditional with a mom and a dad with the mom caring for the babies. There is also the description of how a family begins:

“Every year at the very same time, the girl penguins start noticing the boy penguins. And the boy penguins start noticing the girls. When the right girl and the right boy find each other, they become a couple” (p. 6).

Despite being two male penguins, Roy and Silo knew how to be good parents. They took turns keeping the egg, which their keeper gave them to hatch, warm and they knew how to feed Tango and snuggle her in her nest at night.

Henry Cole’s watercolor illustrations add to the overall delightfulness of the book. The majority of the art is presented in vignette with soft edges that flow into the white pages. The depictions of the animals seen at the Central Park Zoom (e.g. red pandas, toads, and cotton-top tamarins) are wonderfully detailed and realistic. To add to the book inclusiveness of same-sex parents, the illustrations also present human families of multicultural backgrounds. There are families that are African American, Asian American, and Caucasian. Each individual have their own characteristics, different skin colors, a variety of ages and hairstyles.

At the end of the book there is an Authors’ Note that explains to the readers what type of penguins Roy and Silo are, when they met, who were the original parents of Tango, explains that if they visit the Central Park Zoo they will see Roy, Silo and Tango and all of their friends.

And Tango Makes Three is a welcome addition to any library collection.

*Starred Review* PreS-Gr. 2. Roy and Silo were "a little bit different" from the other male penguins: instead of noticing females, they noticed each other. Thus penguin chick Tango, hatched from a fertilized egg given to the pining, bewildered pair, came to be "the only penguin in the Central Park Zoo with two daddies." As told by Richardson and Parnell (a psychiatrist and playwright), this true story remains firmly within the bounds of the zoo's polar environment, as do Cole's expressive but still realistic watercolors (a far cry from his effete caricatures in Harvey Fierstein's The Sissy Duckling, 2002). Emphasizing the penguins' naturally ridiculous physiques while gently acknowledging their situation, Cole's pictures complement the perfectly cadenced text--showing, for example, the bewildered pair craning their necks toward a nest that was "nice, but a little empty." Indeed, intrusions from the zookeeper, who remarks that the nuzzling males "must be in love," strike the narrative's only false note. Further facts about the episode conclude, but it's naive to expect this will be read only as a zoo anecdote. However, those who share this with children will find themselves returning to it again and again--not for the entree it might offer to matters of human sexuality, but for the two irresistible birds at its center and for the celebration of patient, loving fathers who "knew just what to do." Jennifer Mattson

PreS-Gr 3-This tale based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo will capture the hearts of penguin lovers everywhere. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are "a little bit different." They cuddle and share a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the others start hatching eggs, they want to be parents, too. Determined and hopeful, they bring an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and proceed to start caring for it. They have little luck, until a watchful zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at having their own family and gives them an egg in need of nurturing. The dedicated and enthusiastic fathers do a great job of hatching their funny and adorable daughter, and the three can still be seen at the zoo today. Done in soft watercolors, the illustrations set the tone for this uplifting story, and readers will find it hard to resist the penguins' comical expressions. The well-designed pages perfectly marry words and pictures, allowing readers to savor each illustration. An author's note provides more information about Roy, Silo, Tango, and other chinstrap penguins. This joyful story about the meaning of family is a must for any library.-Julie Roach, Watertown Free Public Library, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

CONNECTIONS *Read more book with same-sex parents or character like King & King and King & King & Family by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland,

1 comment:

  1. This is a great book about diversity and acceptance. We keep it on the coffee table.


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