by Judy Newman
As a kid growing up in Newton, Massachusetts, in the 1960s and ’70s, we never had tacos. Our meals came from a pretty narrow menu of meat and potatoes, chicken (dark meat because my father didn’t like white meat), lamb chops, hamburgers and hot dogs, and chocolate chip pancakes when we went out to The Pancake House for occasional Sunday night kid-friendly dinners. I know my dad, who just passed away last month at the age of 93, would have preferred eating even white meat chicken to those pancake dinners, but we kids loved the treat of having breakfast for supper.
We didn’t have much exposure to foods from different cultures. Sometimes we would go out for Chinese food at Ho Sai Gai in Putterham Circle or Italian food at Casa Barbi on Commonwealth Avenue. But other than spaghetti and meatballs, I don’t recall my mother preparing food from different cuisines at home. We watched The French Chef on Channel 2 (PBS TV in Boston), but we never cooked like Julia Child.
Taco Bell, ubiquitous today, wasn’t a household name when I was a kid. It was founded in California in 1962. Although Mexican food found its way to America in the 1920s, it never made it to my house on Intervale Road.
Discovering tacos when I first came to New York was one of the great culinary pleasures of my young adult life. Today, after work at Scholastic, we often go for group meals to Dos Caminos on West Broadway in SoHo. I like to order the “Taco Tour”—two each of baja, carnitas, pescado, and pollo on handmade corn tortillas.
Speaking of when I first came to New York and started working in children’s book publishing, we had a very hard time getting kids excited to choose books about dragons. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and “Puff the Magic Dragon” sung by Peter, Paul and Mary (and later made into a gorgeous picture book by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, with illustrations by Eric Puybaret) performed well, but other than that, dragon books weren’t too popular among the kids who ordered from Scholastic Book Clubs.
I wouldn’t have predicted it when I was a kid or when I first started out in publishing, but today, all these years later, it is so much fun to see tacos and dragons come together deliciously in such a beloved and bestselling picture book by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri, which we are so excited to offer as our Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week.
When I told Sophie Rae I was working on our blog for Dragons Love Tacos, she went to her own grocery cart and considered making tacos for our imaginary dinner. And, she told me, she’ll invite some dragons.
According to author Adam Rubin (whose favorite food is fried chicken), like me, dragons do love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny-tiny tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa…there’s going to be trouble.
“The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The dragons may screw up the party, but this book gets everything right.” —The New York Times
Inspired by a little statue of what appeared to be a dragon eating a taco that sat on his father’s desk in Adam’s childhood home, Dragons Love Tacos is a New York Times–bestselling phenomenon, logging over 357 weeks on the bestsellers list and more than 16,000 ratings on Amazon. Adam and Daniel celebrated the tenth anniversary of the book’s publication last summer by going out for tacos, of course.
With quirky illustrations and witty text, Dragons Love Tacos has the perfect recipe for a rip-roaring classroom read-aloud.
Here are some additional resources to complement this Book of the Week:
• Take a brain break with the Book Boys as they throw a taco party of their own in an original music video
• First grade teacher Lindsay Sauer shares how she uses Dragons Love Tacos to teach her students sequencing, vocabulary, and fluency in Book Talks
• Read an exclusive interview with Dragons Love Tacos author Adam Rubin to discover his favorite parts of being an author, and why writing is like making delicious nachos in Behind the Scenes
• Download a free printable activity to accompany Dragons Love Tacos in Cooked Up from a Book
We’re always cooking up new ways to get kids excited about reading. That’s why in addition to the $1 Book of the Week, we’ve created inflation-busting savings, exclusive author events, live read-aloud shows, and fun contests to help make it easier for teachers to fill their classroom libraries with great books and get their students to love reading as much as dragons love tacos.
I’d love to hear from you about Dragons Love Tacos, life in your classroom, or your favorite taco recipe! Please feel free to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs