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MEET Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, Authors of And Tango Makes Three

Peter Parnell                                   Justin Richardson

The first we heard about the story was in an article that Dinitia Smith wrote about Roy, Silo, and Tango that appeared in the New York Times. We were both delighted and touched by the story of these two penguins who had become a couple, and tried to hatch a rock, and their zookeeper becoming aware of what they were trying to do. It sounded like a children’s story to us. And because we were aware, obviously, of the many different kinds of families there are, it seemed like a great way to tell that story.

A.B. How are you responding to the controversy (some are having withTango) to pull it from some school library shelves? In one school I visited  it was  right out on the display shelf.

The controversy around the book has been very dismaying, of course. The idea of trying to make the book less available to children, or trying to ban it completely, is angering and disheartening to hear. At the same time, we’ve been very heartened by the majority of librarians, journalists, and readers who’ve responded so favorably to the book, who’ve embraced it strongly, and who are strong in their response to the critics, and in their desire for the book to remain available to everybody. 

A.B. What has been the feedback you’ve received from readers both young and old?

The feedback has been great. Young readers ask questions about everything from, tell us more about the penguin house, to, how do we recognize Roy and Silo from all the other penguins? Older readers are moved by Roy and Silo sitting on that rock, trying to hatch it (which often makes younger readers laugh). We’ve received many thanks from same-sex couples with kids, from single moms and dads. Our favorite thing is to read the book to kids at schools and bookstores.

I’d like to personally THANK Peter and Justin for sharing their story with SLJ Blog readers.  Please feel free to leave them comments.

-Amy Bowllan

A.B. Who/What inspired you to write AND TANGO MAKES THREE?


  1. What do Mr. Parnell and Mr. Richardson do for a living? Are they professional writers?

  2. What do Mr. Parnell and Mr. Richardson do for a living? Are they professional writers?

  3. jillyean kellogg says:

    where can we go for support when parents attempt to have this book removed from our school library. we are facing this right now and must defend the book at an upcoming district meeting. Help! We love this book and NEED it in our library.

  4. Amy Bowllan says:

    Hi Jillyean,

    I will pass your message along to SLJ staffers who may be able to guide you in the right direction. Send me an email.

    amy.bowllan at

  5. Bill Hays says:

    Amy, do you know howw to contact the authors? I’m planning a 1st Amendment program in Kansas City, MO and would like to ask at least one of them to speak. Thanks, Bill.

  6. Amy Bowllan says:

    Send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the contact info.

  7. Dennis Williams says:

    The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC would like to commission a 25 minute theater piece/choral work on “Tango Makes Three”. We sent registered letters to the authors/illustrator, but since they were through the Publisher, we were never sure they really saw them. As one of the premier men’s choruses (not just Gay) in the world, we really feel that this story needs to be told in music to help educate the public about the gay experience (A large part of our mission). Can you help me get in touch with the authors/illustrator? Thanks

  8. Dennis Williams says:

    Just realized that I gave no contact info in my previous message. Email: address 8102 Finch Court, Hyattsville, MD 20785. Thanks again.

  9. Thank you so much. this book deals with subject matter that can be very sensitive and awkward if not in the right hands.
    Thank you so much, there needs to be more for the young like this

  10. Thank you so much. this book deals with subject matter that can be very sensitive and awkward if not in the right hands.
    Thank you so much, there needs to be more for the young like this

  11. Let’s be real. Animals KNOW that only male/females mate and have offspring. It’s humans, who have higher reasoning intellect, that go the route of male/male or female/female instead of the normal male/female. Reality check!

  12. Conundrum says:

    The main problem I see is if it wasn’t for human intervention, Roy and Silo would still be warming a rock. This proves nothing in the human world so if you want to teach facts, stick to the facts only and leave fairy tales for college students.

  13. Cristina Gavrus says:

    Hi! I am an actress and want to mount one of mister Parnell’s plays… I’ve searched high and low for an agent to talk to, or a representative, but i couldn’t find anything usefull… If u have such an information, can you help me please? It would mean a great deal to me and my colleagues!! Thanks!
    my email is

  14. divinemisst2000 says:

    International news stories reported that the penguins partnership proved short-lived. As soon as Scrappy, a female from San Diego’s Sea World, arrived in their enclosure, Silo instantly took notice and mated with her leaving his pal behind, an outcome not described in the story book.

  15. This is a very good post, thanks! It’s the first time I come to your site, just found it in Google. I’ve been going around and there’s a lot of quality material. But I tried to put it to my RSS Reader and can’t. Perhaps it’s a only something going on with me… I’ll let you know if it continues!