Dragons have shifted in childhood imaginations in recent decades. There was a time when they were the embodiment of evil and needed to be slayed, or fought, or at least feared - as in St George and the Dragon, or Smaug from The Hobbit who was ‘the chiefest and greatest of calamities.’
Now, although we still enjoy a frightening dragon, they are often likeable and even friendly, as in movies like Mulan or How to Train your Dragon.The Dragons in Dragons Love Tacos are the likeable kind … until they burn the house down as a result of an unfortunate salsa incident!
This book has been on the NYT bestseller list for 69 weeks for good reason. It’s funny and a little bit scary, fantastic and still relatable, and quick to read with plenty to keep talking about. It's all about dragons and their great love of tacos. But, just as much as dragons love tacos, apparently they hate spicy salsa.
A young boy is having a taco party for dragons and he makes an attempt to hide the spicy salsa but some slips through and the dragons eat it.
Suddenly, the party turns into a fire-breathing dragon extravaganza and the boy’s house is destroyed.
(It’s all ok in the end because the dragons help to rebuild.)
The story is really cute; it brings on gales of laughter from the three to seven-year-old set and leaves them with dragon-obsessed thinking and planning for ages afterwards.
It’s easy to read aloud and there are a bunch of questions scattered throughout the story – directed to the dragons or to no-one in particular, they're fun to ponder on briefly before the story continues. Questions like:
“Why do dragons love tacos?” and “Why do dragons love parties?” But most of all: “Why do dragons hate spicy salsa?”
This is certainly a book that's all about the fun of imagining a crazy scenario, but it also lends itself to:
Talking about quantities – the book recommends that: “If you want to have some dragons over for a taco party, you’ll need buckets of tacos. Pantloads of tacos. The best way to judge is to get a boat and fill the boat with tacos.” Lots of discussion about exact measurements and volume can flow from this in a fun and natural way.
Learning to cook tacos – how else will you have a taco party?
Thinking about forgiveness – the little boy just gets on with life as the dragons help him rebuild. (Labouring this point could take the fun out of the book but it’s still there, adding to a child’s set of responses.)
Party planning – what sort of party would your guests enjoy? What kind of food?
Building vocabulary and an understanding of sayings and idioms – the dragons are called ‘good Samaritans’, the boy doesn’t read the ‘fine print’ on the salsa jar, and there are words like jalapeños, gigantic, tortillas and others that may be new to some young children.
Mostly though - it’s just a whole heap of fun to read. The words have a fun conversational tone and the pictures show all manner of dragons doing dramatic dragon things in a most appealing way. The young children in your life will love it and you will too. It’s tacos for dinner at our house tonight – sans dragons!
P.S. These particular dragons are clearly carnivores, there are only beef or chicken tacos on offer. I guess that’s the way dragons are. Although there's always Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon, (who is definitely an outlier).
P.P.S. You might like these ideas for a Dragons Love Tacos party.