And Tango Makes Three

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
And Tango Makes Three Book Poster Image
Touching love story of male penguins teaches acceptance.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers see a loving, parental same-sex relationship and are introduced to the idea of adoption in this true story of two chinstrap penguins who nurtured and raised the offspring of another penguin couple.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding and that a community helps children and families thrive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Roy and Silo are loving to each other and loving, nurturing parents to their adopted penguin. The zookeepers recognize Roy and Silo's bond, allow them to stay together, and help them start a family.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that And Tango Makes Three is a powerful, gentle story of two male penguins who fall in love at the zoo and together nurture and parent another penguin couple's offspring from the time it's an egg. Based on a true story from the Central Park Zoo in New York City, it shows there are different kinds of families, using familiar images and concepts of love and tolerance, while weaving in the idea of adoption and how a community helps kids and families thrive. First published in 2005, this 10th-anniversary edition includes a CD with narration by actor Neil Patrick Harris. The book is both popular and controversial, often landing on the annual American Library Association Top Ten list of most frequently challenged books.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjedboston August 10, 2018

Excellent book about families

This book is an excellent choice for helping explain the diverse make-up of families today. It provides an age appropriate story that illustrates tolerance and... Continue reading
Adult Written byMomTeachRead May 16, 2019

Controversy for all the wrong reasons

This book consistently garners reviews from angry people who insist that it's about gay penguins. I also frequently see them getting their facts wrong. The... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe book lover12345 October 10, 2019

It's the truth

Do you ever wonder what it feels like to be made fun of for being yourself? All of the LGBTQ plus community do! And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and P... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byFathomT February 14, 2016

Best Children's book in years!

My five year old brother loves this book! It is a healthy, light, happy, and above all cute way of introducing your child to gay people. AKA, it's a gay bo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Roy and Silo are two inseparable chinstrap penguins. After zookeepers notice they do everything together, just like all the boy-girl penguin couples, they soon realize they, too, are trying to build a nest to start a family. So the zookeepers help Roy and Silo find a way to start their very own family, by letting them nurture and raise the offspring of another penguin couple from the time its an egg.

Is it any good?

This heartwarming story underscores the universal way families form around love and shows that some families who can't have babies of their own adopt. All this is told through delicate watercolor renderings that show zoo life as happy and content -- and animal love that's as sweet as human love.

Its powerful message of acceptance will help readers see that though families may look very different form one another, they share the same basic goals and bonds and that communities help kids and families thrive. Families may want to use AND TANGO MAKES THREE to introduce the concept of same-sex relationships in an age-appropriate way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about And Tango Makes Three's love story. Do you know any kids with two dads? How are their families the same as or different from yours?

  • How do the zookeepers know Roy and Silo are in love?

  • Which other parents help take care of you? What sort of "village" helps raise you and any brothers or sisters? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family and animal stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate