Celebrate National Taco Day with Kids’ Books

 

As anyone on Twitter will have by now discerned, it’s #NationalTacoDay! These books for youth, linked to their excerpted Booklist reviews, exult the taco in all it’s taco-y glory.

Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin

Tacos are high on the list of dragon-friendly foods. Who knew? There is, however, a major qualification: the salsa must be mild (“even a speck of hot pepper makes a dragon snort sparks”). Rubin and Salmieri, the creators of Those Darn Squirrels! offer up a how-to guide for young readers to throwing one heck of a dragons’ taco party. (Don’t forget about the sequel, Dragons Love Tacos 2.)

 

The Cooking of Mexico, by Matthew Locricchio

These nicely presented titles in the Super Chef series offer more than just traditional recipes. After a shared introduction about safety, each featured title introduces varied regional cuisines, mentioning festivals, traditions, and music to give readers a broader cultural view of each country. Recipes make up the bulk of each book. Mexico includes a section called “A Taco Party,” as well as a cautionary introduction to chile peppers.

 

Stef Soto, Taco Queen, by Jennifer Torres

Stef Soto, star of this middle-grade book, is tired of feeling babied by her parents, and she’s especially tired of being known as the Taco Queen because of her dad’s food truck, called Tía Perla. She wants them to give her a little more freedom, but she’s having trouble working out how to prove she’s mature. When her family’s livelihood is threatened by new food truck codes, Stef wants to speak out in defense of Tía Perla, but she’s not quite sure where to begin.

 

But these aren’t the only taco-centric reads. Although less obviously about tacos, the following titles use them as a major plot point.

Don’t Fail Me Now, by Una LaMarche

It has always been up to 17-year-old Michelle to care for her younger siblings Cass and Denny; their mother cannot stay clean, and her father, Buck, left when Cass was a baby. But Michelle’s options are running out: Cass is being bullied at school; Denny is a bully; their mom is in jail; and she has only a few hundred dollars from her job at Taco Bell. When word reaches Michelle that Buck is dying in California and has something for them, a road trip seems in order.

 

Dude: Fun with Dude and Betty, by Lisa Pliscou

Dick and Jane are so bogus! Dude and Betty are way more righteous. The vocabulary isn’t exactly standardized-test-worthy in this primer for first- to third-graders, which seems more focused on surf culture than reading skills. The layout and sentence structure are classroom classic, but the theme and art are California cool in scenes of Dude, Betty, and a “most excellent dog,” Bud, playing Frisbee; hanging out at the taco stand; and boogying, joined by a few multicultural beachgoers.

 

Finding Mr. Brightside, by Jay Clark

A teen love story that begins at a pharmacy and then moves to a Taco Bell before settling into a beachfront vacation condo? Sounds implausible, but no more so than the romance that develops between Abram and Juliette. Abram’s father and Juliette’s mother were having an affair before the accident that took their lives. Now the two teens are inexplicably drawn to each other.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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