"It didn't matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home."
-Lev Grossman, The Magician's Land

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Feed Your Appetite for a Hilarious Book with Dragons Love Tacos

Rubin, Adam. 2012. Dragons Love Tacos. Ill. by Daniel Salmieri. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-8037-3680-1

This delightful picture book reads more like a "How To" manual for making friends with dragons and throwing a successful party for dragons.  The clever narrator instructs a young boy and his dog how to befriend a dragon.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that "dragons love tacos."  The narrator emphasizes this point through repetition but also warns the boy that dragons HATE spicy salsa.  He then goes on to explain that dragons love parties almost as much as they love tacos.  Therefore, dragons love taco parties more than anything!  

The boy takes the narrator's advice and decides to host a taco party for a flight of dragons.  He makes all the necessary preparations, including filling a boat with tacos and burying the spicy salsa in the backyard.  The party seems to be a hit, and the dragons are all having an amazing time, until the narrator reads the fine print on the jar of salsa.  While the label advertises it as being "totally mild", the fine print boasts that it now has "spicy jalapeƱo peppers."

The dragons, who have already consumed copious amounts of tacos, begin to belch fire and consequently burn down the boy's house.  While this is an unfortunate turn of events, the story does have a happy ending.  The dragons help rebuild the boy's house in exchange for tacos.  Because "after all, dragons love tacos."  

Adam Rubin has created a unique story in which people and dragons coexist peacefully, set in the present day.  The idea that dragons would love tacos, of all food, is hilarious and sets this book up to be a favorite of children everywhere.  And in addition to their strong affinity for tacos, these dragons enjoy playing charades, dressing up in costumes, and playing the accordion.  Rubin obviously has a creative mind, as the absurd premise of his story is one that readers will automatically react to with laughter and delight.

Another strength of this story is the voice Rubin uses.  The omniscient narrator doesn't just tell the story, he speaks directly to the characters and persuades the little boy to host the taco party.  If it wasn't for the narrator, the main conflict in the story would not have occurred.  This is different than the format of more traditional picture books, but it works extremely well for Rubin.  It makes this book all the more memorable.

Daniel Salmieri's watercolor and pencil illustrations are the perfect companion for this wacky text.  Salmieri portrays the boy and his dog with wide eyes, as if they are in a perpetual state of surprise or confusion.  While dragons are often presented as terrifying, these dragons don't have a scary bone in their bodies.  They are drawn as curious and happy looking creatures who are easy to please - all you need are some tacos.  Some of Salmieri's more memorable dragons include the one in the pool wearing a seashell bra and the one at the taco party wearing an "I love tacos" t-shirt.

My son received this book as a Christmas gift, and I am so thankful he did.  I had actually never heard of this gem, and now I can't imagine our home library without it.  We have read it countless times, and I enjoy it as much as my children do.  Bottom line is: if you love dragons or tacos, or even if you don't like either, you will love this book, and your children will thank you for bringing its silliness into their lives!

NY Times Bestseller

NY Times Notable Book

2013 NAIBA Picture Book of the Year

From THE NEW YORK TIMES - "Rubin and Salmieri, the team behind the equally hilarious Those Darn Squirrels!, bring their kooky sensibility to this irresistible story about what can go wrong at a taco party for dragons...The dragons may screw up the party, but this book gets everything right."

From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY - "Off-kilter fun for those who like their picture books (and salsa) zesty and fresh."

From THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - "Dragons Love Tacos is a heaping helping of silly.  Little kids will relate to the anti-spicy bias and chuckle over Salmieri's watercolor and gouache cartoon illustrations showing literally boatloads of tacos and all sizes of dragons enjoying their favorite food at pool parties, costume parties and, well, taco parties."

Read other picture books by the team of Rubin and Salmieri

  • Rubin, Adam. Big Bad Bubble. ISBN 978-0544045491
  • Rubin, Adam. Secret Pizza Party. ISBN 978-0803739475
  • Rubin, Adam. Those Darn Squirrels! ISBN 978-0547576817

Plan a make-your-own taco party for your students.  Bring in the taco shells, meat, and all the toppings.  Let the students try the spicy salsa, if they want to.  Remember to check the ingredients to be sure they are safe for your students with allergies.

Click this link to share some dragon jokes with your students.  Dragon Jokes

Have your students choose an animal and write about what unlikely food that animal loves to eat.

Have your students write about their favorite food and how they like to eat it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Newest SCBWI Member

As I continue on my journey to becoming a published picture book author, I decided to join the organization that has already brought me so much inspiration!  So excited to be a part of something who's roster is full of superstars in the field.  Happy day for me!