7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:
Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!)

h1 April 15th, 2012 by jules

“Just remember: Dragons hate spicy salsa.
Before you host your taco party with dragons, get rid of all the spicy salsa.
In fact, bury the spicy salsa in the backyard so the dragons can’t find it.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Do you know those really funny picture books that don’t get in the way of their own humor, that perhaps don’t even get how very funny they are, much like that wicked funny friend you have, who cracks you up yet doesn’t realize how wicked sharp her own wit is? Or perhaps doesn’t even know the power of her own goofy and how extremely entertaining it is to everyone around her?

Or, better yet, here are the words of the late, great James Marshall on the matter:

“[H]umor, which I do—comedy—is very tricky. You can’t show how hard you work. You can’t call attention to yourself. You can’t show the wheels turning. It’s got to be like a balloon that floats up into the air. You don’t make the reader, the viewer aware of anything but the story.”

(That comes from this Horn Book interview, conducted by Anita Silvey.)

Today’s featured book is like that for me, Adam Rubin’s Dragons Love Tacos, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. I read an early copy of this book months ago and nearly laughed my fool head off, but not as much as my eight-year-old and six-year-old did.

It’s hard to describe the book’s wit, which is why, as always, l lean on the art to describe it better than I ever could. This is droll, very offbeat stuff, which as I said isn’t trying too hard to be funny — yet is remarkably so.

“Hey, kid!” the book opens. “Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well?” Right off the bat we see that no dragons are going to have life-affirming lessons about sharing or bickering or the circle of life. This is just going to be a really funny book about things like … well, little baby tacos. Score. And right there on the first spread is a young boy and his dog, the one at which “hey, kid!” is aimed, staring at us with a look that could be utter confusion or utter disdain. (You can see that here at the illustrator’s site.)

Indeed, these dragons, it turns out, live in taco caves, and “tacos are key” if you want to make friends with them. On the third spread (also included at Salmieri’s site) we see that the boy and his dog have set out to make some tacos for the dragons, “[b]ut wait! As much as dragons love tacos, they hate spicy salsa even more.” Same for the toppings. (“Hey dragon, how do you feel about spicy taco toppings?” says one spread, as we see a purple dragon laid out dramatically on the ground, tongue hanging out, as if ill. It’s a laugh-outloud moment of melodrama, which you can actually see at the “illustrations” page of Daniel’s site.)

“Dragons, listen to me: Do not eat those tacos. Those little green specs in the salsa? Those are jalapeño peppers—they are super-spicy! I know you love tacos, dragons, but you are not gonna love those tacos. DO NOT LET THOSE DRAGONS EAT THOSE TACOS!!! Crunch, crunch, crunch…”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Dragons also love parties, but the only thing dragons love more than parties or tacos is … wait for it … taco parties. So, a taco party is had, and I don’t want to give away the entire story here, but let’s say the boy and his dog, as you can see above, didn’t read the fine print on the salsa bottle. The tension that builds here, as the reader realizes this, is funny stuff. And the over-the-top drama that results is one of my favorite picture book spreads of 2012.

Now, RIGHT HERE I was gonna be all, drumroll…here’s that very funny spread of which I speak! ‘Cause, you see, I have this particular spread to show you, as someone at Penguin had sent it to me, but the file is corrupt and she can’t mail it to me again till Monday. (Same for the illustrator himself.) This means that tomorrow, for those who really want to see this spread, I’ll have it up at 7-Imp in its own addendum-type post. Hey, it’ll be fun. And, hey, this great picture book deserves two posts, right? RIGHT!

For now, my own girls, who love this book, show off their Salmieri-inspired art. (We were going to re-enact this missing spread, but it’s challenging without actual dragons around.) First up, is a dragon-sized taco—a very fiery one, indeed—followed by what might happen if a ginormous dragon ate too many jalapeño peppers.

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion. I promise I’ll have the real spread then.

This one will be released in June. Don’t miss it. It’s now right up there for me with Matthew Cordell’s Another Brother as one of the funniest picture books of 2012 thus far.

Dare I say it’s a delicious treat, much like a taco? I just did.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS. Copyright © 2012 by Adam Rubin. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Daniel Salmieri. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin, New York. Images reproduced by permission of publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

My kicks ONE to SEVEN this week are taken care of with this video, featuring Naomi Shihab Nye talking about poetry. I’m such a fan of her books, her poetry, all her writings. (She did write two of my favorite poems, after all — “Kindness” and “Famous.”)

I only wish this were longer. (It’s just under two-and-a-half minutes.) I could listen to her talk even more.

Watch Extended Interview: Naomi Shihab Nye on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

You can also see her read two of her poems here.

Actually, another kick is that I really like this song from GASHCAT, called “The Morning Sun,” and the entire CD from which it comes:

That one’s for gettin’ up and dancing.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

21 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:
Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!)”

  1. Jules, Dragons Love Tacos sounds like my kind of picture book! I love the book’s concept. And thank you for sharing that lovely and inspiring interview with Naomi Shihab Nye.

    My kicks this week:

    1. I have a friend who makes solid perfumes inspired by literary characters. So she has one scent called (Katniss) Everdeen that smells like the woods (Katniss is a hunter) and smoke (Katniss is also “the girl on fire”). Mind. Blown.

    2. I have Hello Kitty glasses!!! On Facebook I posted a picture of me wearing them, if you are curious. :o)

  2. Good morning! Dragons and tacos! Kids are going to love it! I love the quote by Marshall, humor is tricky.
    Jules, love your girls acting out the book. And Naomi today, too? What a day!
    Tatie, saw the glasses. Love them!
    My kicks:
    1. Finding poems sent back to students at Silver Star in thanks for poems received .
    2. Seventeen students will have their poem published in the Poetry Digest. Gotta get the parent permission slips in.
    3. Featuring student poetry at Check It Out.
    4. Writing a haiku a day.
    5. Participating in the Progressive Poem for National Poetry Month.
    6. Working on pulling together my photos and poems for an ebook.
    7. Sunshine.
    Have a great week.

  3. Jules, The first image sold me on Dragons Love Tacos, and the second made me laugh right out loud. Hard. And the pics of the girls are fantastic.

    My kicks for the week:
    2. On Friday night, I went with friends to see Cabin in the Woods, which I cannot recommend highly enough if you’re a fan of horror. It’s a comedy/horror mash-up, that made me laugh and gasp, laugh and gasp.
    3. The company was great Friday night, too.
    4. I made some good forward progress on the library’s tenth anniversary celebration, which has involved getting help from some of my enthusiastic and smart coworkers. I love my coworkers.
    5. Speaking of the library, it was break week here, and we had some really successful programs.
    6. Also I loved seeing the school aged kids I don’t get to see as much anymore.
    7. Overall, after weeks of working REALLY HARD ALL THE TIME, I took a little break this week and moved a little more slowly. That is a luxury.

  4. Tacos and dragons? Must nibble on that book soon. It looks like so much fun! Love the girls and their props :). Naomi = sigh. Love her.

    Great Hello Kitty glasses, Tarie. 🙂

    Jone, how exciting that you’re working on an ebook!


    1. Received a wonderful poem from a third grader via Jone’s Poetry Postcard Project. Best kind of mail :).

    2. Having great fun hosting the Poetry Potluck at Alphabet Soup. Easy to do when you have such cool guest poets. Lovin’ all the great reader comments and discussions, too.

    3. Surprise books in the mail! Thankful to know such kind, generous people. 🙂

    4. A very smart, music-lovin’, should-have-her-own-NPR radio show friend sent me a CD containing beautiful lullabies from all over the world. Talk about soothing the savage beast! Anyway, this friend also loves coffee; has at least 7 cups every morning and throws out her own brand of sunshine every. single. day. Do you know her?

    5. Another very thoughtful friend sent me a teddy bear from the Norman Rockwell Museum. (It was a VERY good week for snail mail.) “Norm” is super soft and so well behaved. But he’s eating all the graham crackers in the house.

    6. Quiche. Fresh strawberries. Mint Milanos.

    7. Mary Oliver.

    Happy Week, Imps!

  5. Just missed Adrienne as I was flying by. *waves*

    Glad you enjoyed your week of luxury. Yay Fiona Apple!!

  6. Jama, glad you liked your poetry postcard.
    Hi, Adrienne.

  7. Tarie, you have many friends and many friends with unusual talents. I love knowing people with unusual jobs. I like saying I have a friend who is a midwife, but I also work with someone whose husband is a tugboat captain. A TUGBOAT CAPTAIN!

    And I will look for that picture of your glasses.

    Jone, congrats on kick #2! And you are ROCKIN’ Poetry Month. I got a poetry postcard, too, and I’m highly embarrassed that I failed to mention it as a kick, but I blame traveling for work this week, which has me behind on everything.

    Adrienne, you will really, really, REALLY love this book. … Fiona! Can’t wait to hear about it, and congrats on getting all the work done and getting a break.

    Jama, who is also rockin’ Poetry Month: Quiche. Mmm. Glad you like the lullaby CD. It makes me happy, especially the Hawaiian lullaby. (Did I spell that correctly?) Teddy bears in the mail = whoa.

  8. Happy weekend Imps!

    Dragons and tacos – such a great combination for mayhem and silliness.

    Jules – love the pics of the girls with their tacos and fire – have y’all seen the video of Caine’s Arcade yet? That type of imagination reminds me of it.

    Also, thanks for the music, great happy upbeat way to kick off a Sunday morning.

    Tarie – that perfume sounds incredible. Hooray for Hello Kitty sunglasses. : )

    Jone – congrats on all the poetry success for you and your students. I am loving the sun too, but the rest of the week’s forecast doesn’t look very promising.

    Adrienne – thanks for the movie recommendation and great score on the Fiona Apple concert.

    Jama – sounds like a wonderful week for gifts in the mail. The quiche, strawberries and mint milanos sounds like mind of 3 course dinner.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone, now I’m ready for the next book. I really enjoyed it, to the point that I am annoyed I have to wait for the sequel to be published to meet the characters again.
    2) Caine’s Arcade – just sweet. http://vimeo.com/nirvan/cainesarcade

    3) I have been under stress, but a good thing that’s come of it is I dropped a size and went shopping in my closet. Nice to pull out some suits I hadn’t worn in a few years.
    4) Cole has a rash and we got it identified yesterday as allergies, so he is now on antibiotics and steroids, so hopefully it’ll clear up. Poor pup, he doesn’t act like it bothers him though, his tail still wags all the time.
    5) Cut the grass yesterday.
    6) Been feeling introspective lately, which made me track down the eulogy I gave at my Dad’s funeral when I was 23. Made me feel good to see that young me had things more together than I thought I did.
    7) http://textfromdog.tumblr.com/ This made me laugh out loud. And then I read it again and laughed some more. It’s brilliant. It’s texts between a bulldog and his owner. Not kid safe, since there’s cursing, but just damn funny.

    Hope everyone gets a wish come true this week!

  9. Good afternoon, Imps!

    Hello there, Daniel Salmieri! I shared this post and these images with someone I know who loves tacos.

    Dear dragons: I don’t like spicy salsa either. In fact, you’ll never find any kind of salsa in my kitchen.

    Jules: Thumbs up to your girls for re-enacting the book. I look forward to seeing the conclusion tomorrow. 🙂

    Tarie: Do the glasses have a little red (or pink) bow on the side?

    Jone: How fantastic for your students. Congratulations to them, and to you!

    Adrienne: Have fun at the concert! I’m sure it will be #1 on a kicks list of yours in June. Happy early anniversary to the library. Glad that the recent programs went well.

    Jama: Glad that Poetry Month is treating you so well!

    Rachel: Sending you happy, healthy thoughts. I just forwarded that Tumblr to a friend who loves dogs.

    This week’s kicks include:
    1) The fifth annual Rock the Drop with readergirlz!
    2) The song Until You Won Me Over by Trent Dabbs
    3) Film audition
    4) Screening
    5) Updated my clips
    6) Played on a piano
    7) Phone call from one of my favorite people ever

  10. Rachel, I have not seen that video yet, but I’ll go watch in a second. Thanks! And I’m still not done with Daughter of Smoke and Bone but hope to read some tonight.

    Glad Cole is okay, and how is Skittle?

    The phrase “power slide” in that textfromdog link made me laugh. Cats take that to an art form.

    Hope your stress goes away soon, Rachel. Have a good week!

  11. Little Willow, it’s been five years already for Rock the Drop? WILD.

    Thanks for the song. I’m listening now!

  12. Wow, I like that song, LW.

  13. Hey Imps! I enjoyed everyone’s comments so much!

    Trent Dabbs – Holy Guacomole! Thank you. Never heard of him, my life has been poorer without his music.

    I laughed out loud at the pictures from this book, and so did my 5-year old (who had just eaten a taco sans salsa an hour before!). Can’t wait for this book. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    And I really, really love Naomi Shihab Nye – since I heard her read a beautiful poem on NPR from ‘Words Under the Words’ about peaches years ago. I almost drove off the road! What an inspiration she is in so many ways (almost too many for one woman, when I think about it!)

    My kicks this week:
    1. Reading Jules’ review of ‘Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle’ on the Kirkus site.

    2. Having my 5-year old son read me ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ AGAIN but with incredible rhythm, inflection and humor.

    3. Saturday concert benefit concert for our preschool with Rhythm Child – one of the best kids bands ever! http://www.rhythmchild.net

    4. Finding a kind, funny, GREAT hairdresser who cuts curly hair in Culver City, CA – I’m saved from the doom of more bad hair years.

    5. reading this entry from my heart’s brother Ronnie’s blog entry about his uncle: http://ronnietomanio.blogspot.com/2012/04/wearing-my-uncles-sweater.html.
    He’s a children’s book author and poet with such beauty and heart in every word,

  14. Little Willow, yes! Only my bow is blue. :o)

  15. The pictures from this book were so inspiring that I threw the family in the car and went to Sam Diegos for tacos.

    Love th pics. of the girls, especially the fire breathing one.

    Jana – Mint Milanos should always count as my unspoken 8th kick. We call them Mommy Cookies around here.

    Allison- So glad you found a hair dresser. It’s not easy being curly.


    1. WMVY radio http://www.mvyradio.com/ This is my in-studio radio station. You can listen online. Love them!
    2. My wonderful husband built a sandbox in the back yard.
    3. I magically (temporarily, I’m sure) stopped stressing about time management.
    4. Beautiful, unexpected, velvety pansies.
    5. My parents.
    6.Paying the taxes,
    7.Sunny Spring days outside.

    Have a great week everyone.
    Happy Patriots Day!

  16. […] Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast a blog about books « 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #276:Featuring Daniel Salmieri (Er, Part One!) […]

  17. Allison, what I wouldn’t give for curly hair! And that is a lovely, lovely post from your brother.

    Moira, I love that you were inspired to eat actual tacos. “Mommy Cookies.” Heh. I have never, ever heard of the myyradio site and will have to explore it. … Speaking of Patriots Day, I was just in Concord, Mass, and that is a HUGE event up there. Lots of celebrations.

    Have a great week, all!

  18. wow how cute of a book when i red it to my sister she loved it!!!!! 🙂 😉

  19. […] book from him and author Adam Rubin. Remember Dragons Love Tacos (2012), which I posted about here? That was a Rubin-Salmieri collaboration (and there have been others), which I still think is one […]

  20. […] art by Daniel here at 7-Imp). I also failed to ask them what their fascination with sauces is (salsa, robo-power-inducing sauce), so I’ll ask them that next time […]

  21. […] Dragons Love Tacos, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, which came out in 2012, yes? I posted about it here (and […]

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