Title: This is a Taco!
Author: Andrew Cangelose
Illustrator: Josh Shipley
Category: Picture book
Publisher/Date: Lion Forge/1 May 2018
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.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
Do you need a cute squirrel book? You need a cute squirrel book.
This book is adorable. It reads essentially as a “guide” to learning facts about squirrels, and the main points are illustrated (and refuted) by a squirrel named Taco. The format of the book is witty and silly, and the deadpan manner of the narration pairs really well with the attitude that Taco brings into the book. Taco doesn’t agree with everything that the text says about squirrels, and because of this he decides to take over and change the narration.
Where this book really shines is with its self-reflexive nature: Taco is fully aware that he is in a book, and he and the other animals in the book refer to it as such. When the text starts to put Taco in a dangerous situation, he finds a pen and decides to change the text to put himself in a better situation. His red pen edits don’t change the original text (which I love; it reads as if Taco was just given the text and told to act out each page), but they do change what happens to him in the images, and it’s a really charming contrast. I love self-reflexivity in books, and this one pulled it off well.
The illustrations are a delight; while the text is comically deadpan, the illustrations are bright and cheerful. The animals (and tacos) are adorable and delightful to look at. There’s also an excellent use of lighting as Taco’s situation appears to be getting worse, and it adds a lot to the mood of the story.
Overall, I really loved this! Definitely recommended.
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars