So I decided to check out the most challenged book of 2007, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell with illustrations by Henry Cole. I wasn't even sure if my local public library would carry it but a quick check of the HCL catalog revealed that I could get my hands on it, most challenged book be damned! What a relief!
Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group- these are the reasons identified by ALA for why this title is so frequently challenged. It should be noted here that ALA defines a challenge as "a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."
So needless to say, due to all the uproar and identified "challenge-worthy" criticisms, when I first sat down to read this book, I expected to find lots of racy pictures of male penguins having cartoonish-like sex. Wrong! Instead, I found a sweet story about two male penguins named Roy and Silo at the Central Park Zoo who fall in love, make a nest of stones together, and desire to fill their empty nest like all the other penguin couples hatching little baby penguins together. In the end, their keeper sneaks an orphaned egg into their nest, and Roy and Silo take turns caring for the egg until a baby girl penguin named Tango hatches. Ultimately, this is a love story. It does not advocate homosexuality or disparage "families." It sends the message that love is love and no family or couple is the same.
What I find most interesting about the book comes in the author's note on the last page- this is the true story of a penguin family living at the Central Park Zoo. I wonder if the individuals and groups who challenged And Tango Makes Three went to the zoo to protest the real Roy, Silo, and Tango. Seems pretty silly to me...