N_stefanie Akwa's Reviews > And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
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Oct 24, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: realistic-fiction, mc-literature, picture-books
Read in October, 2010

If you only buy one new book to add to your classroom library, this is the one I would recommend! I couldn’t be happier to find a book that honestly and innocently portrays an “alternative” family structure that can provide some scaffolding for future interactions with children of same-sex parents. From my perspective, it is perfect. Even the illustrations are wonderfully playful, accurate, and fill the pages!

“In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.” This portrayal of a true story that happened in New York’s famous Central Park is for any student that likes penguins, and then some. Penguins Roy and Silo did everything that all penguins do, they bowed to each other, walked together, sang together and swam together. Their keeper, Mr. Gramzay, watched the two penguins build a nest of stones together and behave the same way the other coupled penguins acted. Everything seemed pretty much the same until other penguin couples had eggs that hatched. Roy and Silo wanted to be like all the other penguin couples and sat on a rock day after day and night after night, but nothing happened. One day, Mr. Gramzay found an egg that needed to be cared for and brought it to their nest. Roy and Silo cared for their egg with the same devotion the other penguins had for their eggs, and suddenly a tiny hole appeared in the egg’s shell. The illustrations on my children’s favorite page shows twelve pictures of the egg as the baby penguin pokes her hole, cracks the shell, and emerges joyfully. There are plenty of examples of onomatopoeia on the way to the climax, “CRAAACK! Out came their very own baby!” Mr. Gramzay decided to call her Tango because “it takes two to make a Tango.” The penguin fathers did everything any penguin parent would do. Tango was sung to, fed well, warmed, snuggled, etc. Tango was the first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies, which made her unique. To this day, families of all kinds visit the Central Park Zoo to cheer for the famous penguin family.

“And Tango Makes Three” has won many awards, including the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award given by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This book has the potential to touch and delight young readers and hopefully open their minds. After all, they are only penguins and this is a true story.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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N_Allie l Stefanie,
I was so glad that you chose this book as well! I just finished reading it and wanted to hear what others had to say about it. Here is my question for you, would you feel comfortable reading this book to younger students, such as early elementary students? The problem I can see with this book is, once you have read it to your students, having your students go home and tell their parents, and their parents disagreeing with your choice of reading this book aloud. What are your thoughts? I know you teach high school, how do you think your high schoolers would react? I wish I could remember if a teacher had ever read a book like this to me when I was younger. For me , I think this could be a book I had in my library, but I don't (unfortunately) think that I could read it aloud to my students.
By the way, you did a fabulous job of paraphrasing this book! I love how succinct and clear your review is. Thank you!


N_amandascholz This sounds like a wonderful book. I tried to check it out at my local library, but their only copy was already checked out. I really want to look at this book during Thursday's class. I hope and wonder, though, if there exist any picture books about people who form "alternative" families, especially because this book makes Roy and Silo's actions so natural and normal. In other words, there is nothing "alternative" about their choice. Yes - this is a real story about real penguins, but I would love a real story about real people told with love too. I guess I want nothing "exceptional" about two loving daddies.


N_maryellen Rosenblum Stephanie and Allie,
I loved this book as well and would feel quite comfortable reading it to a first-grade class. I read it to my daughter who is five and she loved it. I must say though that she did not pick up on the fact that Tango had two dads. Emily loved the book because of the story and love shared between Roy and Silo, and then the love shared with Tango. Allie, I don't think this book would be inappropriate if parents were made aware of the subject matter after the reading. I would also make my principal aware of the story theme prior to reading it and also let them okay any note sent home to parents. I have to say that where I have taught, I would probably get mixed reactions from presenting this book to a class.


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