This is a Taco by Andrew Cangelose with illustrations by Josh Shipley

My Two Cents: This Is a Taco! is a humorous book in the same vein as Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Squirrel protagonist Taco blurs the fourth wall by talking directly to the readers from the book's start. But in order to save himself from being eaten, Taco completely breaks the fourth wall - taking over the writing himself. In doing this, he saves his own life and brings home a subtle "we are the masters of our own destiny" theme. One of my greatest writing pet-peeves is when an author tries to "teach" children a lesson, moral or theme in a didactic manner. This Is a Taco! does an excellent job of mixing humor, fact, and messaging without a trace of condescension. While we learn a few facts about squirrels before Taco takes over the writing, the real treat is Taco's 'take charge' attitude. The illustrations by Josh Shipley are both fun and complementary to Taco's humor-filled antics.

Teaching ideas:
 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.5 Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types: Here, teachers can use typical animal nonfiction books, along with the factual pages from This Is a Taco! to examine the differences between factual text and non (Taco telling the story, squirrels don't really talk, etc...). Take a minute to look at when this book is giving facts vs. when it is telling a story. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.6 Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text / CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.: The fact that the writer & Taco both take turns 'telling' the story provides an excellent opportunity to delineate both author's point of view & purpose against Taco's. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges: Taco has personality (told there would be tacos, not tree bark) from the very beginning, take some time to examine his traits and how those assist him in responding to the author's story and why he is uniquely styled to take over his story

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language: Taco changes the wording and doesn't get exactly what he intended... Word Precision & Editing could be used as a picture book launcher for practicing word precision 

Publisher's Synopsis: This is a squirrel . . . "Hey, I may be a squirrel, but my name is Taco! And I don't eat nuts and tree bark—blech—I prefer tacos!" The natural predator of squirrels is . . . "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who is writing this book? I do not like where this is going." This hilarious send-up of a children's nature primer teaches kids that the most important story is the one you write yourself.
Genre: Picture Book, Humor
Grades 1 - 3 (Pre-K & K can enjoy, but literary standards are closer to 2 -3)
Pages: 32
Themes: Take Charge, Write Your Own Story, Persistence
Character Development: All about our protagonist & hero: Taco
Plot Engagement: Begins as a standard "this is a" nature examination and turns into something quite different
Originality: Although it is becoming more common in children's books to have the protagonist address the audience in some way, the mixture of Taco's personality, squirrel facts and the popularity of tacos (the food) make this title rather unique.
Believability: Humor allows for our suspension of disbelief, even when the giant taco shows up due to Taco's poor word choices.
Thank You to publisher Lion Forge for my digital copy on NetGalley.
Date: Available May 1, 2018 ( you can get it on April 18th at comic stores)
ISBN: 978-1941302729
You can buy This Is a Taco! HERE

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