Hi there reddit, I'm Adam Rubin, author of Dragons Love Tacos, Those Darn Squirrels, Robo-Sauce, Gladys the Magic Chicken, High Five, El Chupacabras... and a bunch of other picture books for kids. A handful of those have been New York Times bestsellers, a couple have even won fancy awards but I put Dragons Love Tacos in the title because it's sold a few million copes and anyone with kids under 10 has probably had to read it a hundred more times than they would have liked (I'm sorry).

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/kn6WoBc

MORE Proof: https://imgur.com/a/1SSlcyo

EVEN MORE PROOF: https://imgur.com/a/CEk1EJa

My first "big" book comes out tomorrow. It's 400 pages aimed at 8-12 year olds who might be ready for a wordier read. The book is called THE ICE CREAM MACHINE and it's a collection of six totally different stories that all share the same title ("The Ice Cream Machine"): https://bookshop.org/books/the-ice-cream-machine/9780593325797

Each story has a different plot/genre/setting, different characters, even a different illustrator. I tried my best to make them all funny and exciting and I hope you and your kids enjoy reading them but at the end of the book, there's an invitation for young readers to write *their own* version of "The Ice Cream Machine" and my real hope is to inspire kids to share their fearless creativity with the world before the adolescent shackles of comparison clamp down their unadulterated imaginations.

I put some writing tips in the book to encourage first time authors and I even included my mailing address so that kids can share their stories with me. I really do want to read whatever they come up with. Heck, the dust jacket of the book comes off and folds into an envelope that already has my address on it: https://twitter.com/Rubingo/status/1490093508044234752?s=20&t=HBIe4CXliYu-hHTdoUcOAg

If enough kids send in their stories before the end of the school year I'll publish the best ones in the paperback edition! Know a creative kid? Get 'em a copy of THE ICE CREAM MACHINE and who knows? This time next year, they might be a published author...

Well, that's the shameless plug for the new book but I'm happy to answer questions about any of the others or whatever else you're curious about so ask away!

UPDATE: Thanks for all the great questions everyone! I've been typing for almost 7 hours now so I think it's time to call it quits for the day and go get some ice cream.

Comments: 709 • Responses: 102  • Date: 

lookalive07472 karma

Please never apologize for us parents having to read Dragons Love Tacos a hundred times. I love that book, and I'm 34. My 2 year old daughter requests it all the time and says "Daddy, are you a dragon? You really like tacos too!"

And I have to tell her "no, I'm not a dragon because I really like really spicy salsa!"

No questions here, just wanted to say thank you.

rubingo217 karma

thank you for being so nice and taking the time to leave a comment. However, your daughter is only two so remember that I already apologized in four years when the book is worn down to the cardboard.

GhostCheese359 karma

Used to read Dragons Love Tacos to my kids. Just wanted to say thanks for it.

How are things for you? Are you happy?

rubingo231 karma

Thank you! I am happy. I'm a little nervous about my book coming out tomorrow but in general, very happy I get to make stuff I like and share delicious snacks with friends

NotVerySmarts204 karma

Hi Adam. I have an autistic son, and he loves to read Dragons Love Tacos with me. He demands that I give him a recount of how each dragon is feeling on every page of the book. These are his two questions that he asks every time we read the book together:

  1. Why is the dragon rebuilding the house putting a nail into the middle of the wood beam for no reason? "It doesn't look like it's connecting anything."

  2. On one of the last pages, why is the boy feeding the dragon tacos from the ground? "Those are ground tacos!"

Seriously though, thanks for giving me and my son an activity to enjoy together.

rubingo273 karma

  1. Not ever dragon is an experienced carpenter.
  2. Please refer to the 5-second rule.

Here's an odd detail he may have missed: There are 37 days on the calendar in the dragon's cave. Why? Gotta ask Dan on that one...

Lphilli7176 karma

Thank you for your wonderful books! I’m a children’s librarian and they are possibly the most requested book for younger children. What made you want to write a middle grade novel after such success with picture books?

rubingo364 karma

Good question! It's a weird experiment that nobody asked for and it's 375 pages longer than any other book I've ever written and it took me two years to finish and I had to start over halfway through and it triggered an existential crisis but the point is: I did it. I finally achieved my lifelong goal to write a book that's thick enough to use as a doorstop
But the real reason is because for the past ten years I've been the guy who shows up at elementary school gymnasiums stuffed with students and tries to convince them all that "reading is fun" (which it is). BUT it started to feel like a kind of passive/consumerist/self-serving message. SO the real goal of The Ice Cream Machine is to get kids to realize that WRITING is where the magic is.

FlipinoJackson94 karma

Do Dragons prefer Corn or Flour tortilla?

rubingo97 karma

I think they like the crunch either way but me personally, I'm a corn tortilla fan and I always heat em up on a bare flame then wrap em in a towel/basket for a while before serving.

drchaz63 karma

My family loves these books. One of our favorite parts is the corrected dedication to "Bruce" in Dragons Love Tacos 2. We read DLT dozens of times and never noticed the error until DLT2. It was so cool to find something that we'd missed. Almost like an easter egg. I've always wondered about that. What's the story there? How did that happen? did "Bruce" think it was cool to get called out twice?

rubingo127 karma

Hahah. My sister's name is Bryce and it drives her nuts that people always screw it up so that was just me being a jerk of a big brother and giving her a hard time. There's also a "typo" in the second book where it says she's "the beast sister"

eddiegurthy62 karma

I'm so excited to see you doing an AMA because I've always had this theory about Dragons Love Tacos from reading it to my nephews and I wanted to see if its correct.

The book is about Dragons eating tacos but when they eat spicy salsa they get "tummy troubles" and start shooting fire out of their face. I always saw this as a metaphor for getting explosive diarrhea after eating Mexican food or spicy food in general. Was that the inspiration? Please be honest. It seems so clear to me, surely this was intentional, right?!?!

rubingo102 karma

I had never thought about it this way. Very gross. Thank you.

mrheynow58 karma

What is your favorite type of tacos and ice cream? What are your favorite toppings?

rubingo106 karma

Favorite tacos are carnitas with SPICY salsa (dragons may not like it but I do).

Favorite ice cream is chocolate chip or maybe a a fudge swirl or something with raspberries...

dcux54 karma

How about this ice cream taco (at a Dragons Love Tacos themed bday party, no less! Yes, they served tacos.)

rubingo25 karma


wowmyidsucks56 karma

How did you end up in the children's section? It may sound like a weird question but why pick this genre over any other?

That's such a genius idea. Having the envelope built into the dust jacket. Dragons Love Tacos is a must-have for children.

I read Dragons Love Tacos with my niece and will be reading it with my son when he's a bit older. I didn't know you had so many! Happy days ahead!

rubingo64 karma

I always liked picture books and comics but I never planned to be a "children's author" A friend introduced my to Daniel Salmieri a few years out of college and he really wanted to do picture books specifically so when we started to collaborate, and people liked what we were doing, I just stuck with it!

RedditInsideJokeName37 karma

Love your books, my kids love them even more. Despite having a copy at our house, my kindergartener grabbed it as one of his library books this week and we've been reading it every night. My daughter's favorite book of yours is THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS!! Cracks her up every time.

My question: Can you please do a collab with BJ Novak to do a follow-up for the book with no pictures?

rubingo38 karma

The Book with No Pictures is such a genius idea. I really wish I had thought of it but I'm sure I couldn't have executed as perfectly as BJ. We've never met but we have the same editor and I'm a huge fan.

JeffRyan137 karma

I've spotted Neil DeGrasse Tyson in the sequel, but who else is there that's harder to spot?

rubingo96 karma

You got it! Here is the OFFICIAL IDENTIFICATION GUIDE for all the cameos is Dragons Love Tacos 2: https://twitter.com/Rubingo/status/1242899622168838145?s=20&t=ke\_xc4Hh\_2Zedd6cxnNqtw

pollyanarchy9 karma

Aww man this is so cool to finally know who everyone is . I did think that Beyonce was RuPaul though

rubingo33 karma

Not an uncommon mistake. I do mention RuPaul in my book High Five though very few people catch the reference... The male marsupial who wears a female pouch is named Kangaroo Paul.

Linuturk35 karma

Did the salsa company that falsely advertised that mild salsa contribute to rebuild the house?

rubingo40 karma

Robbie is not litigious but many experts suggest he might have a case...

Transformah28 karma

What is the correct way to make the fire-breathing noise when the dragon's eat the spicy salsa?

rubingo50 karma

EXCELLENT question. I usually just get real quiet before I turn the page and then scream at the top of my lungs in an effort to terrify the children into giggle fits.

CorgiDeathmatch18 karma

What are your recommendations for getting young kids into writing? I have two kids under 4 (I know it'll be a few years, but I'm still trying to think about the future), and would love to hear your thoughts on introducing writing at a very young age.

Thank you for sharing your stories. Big fan of Dragons Love Tacos!

rubingo30 karma

4 might be young for writing a story but it's not too young to encourage imaginative play and if your kids grow up believing that their imaginations are worth sharing, they're very lucky to have encouraging, creative parents! If they can't quite write yet, you can always just have them dictate to you and capture some of that wild, inventive spirit to share with them when they get older and (sadly) more discerning about what kind of stories "make sense"

communistgnome18 karma

My son received Dragons Love Tacos as a first-birthday gift. It ended up replacing the Spanish version of "Good Night Moon" on the top of the favorites list, and continues to hold its own against Mo Willems, Grumpy Monkey, and the whole rest of the bookshelf four years later. We do voices and an interactive routine while reading it. It's a solid piece of work.

Do you have a taco meat recipe?

rubingo19 karma

I love slow roasting pork shoulder to make carnitas. I use fruit juice and spices and it's so good. I like this hot sauce a lot: https://secretaardvark.com/shop/sauce/aardvark-habanero-hot-sauce/

J_Bagelsby16 karma

Is The Ice Cream Machine an in depth look into why McDonald's everywhere never seem to have a functioning ice cream machine?

rubingo13 karma

No but it should be.

Scrubatl14 karma

We’re you stoned when you wrote the book? My kids love 1 and 2, and my wife and I chuckle thinking someone had to be high writing this.

rubingo56 karma

High on life, my friend. Also LSD.

rubingo76 karma

just kidding, please don't cancel me.

ManishMan1113 karma

Spicy tacos are a huge topic of conversation during many meals at the dinner table with my 4 year old son - he obviously loves this book.

How did you figure out you wanted to write children's books? Are illustrators recommended to you for your books, or do you usually have someone in mind?

rubingo15 karma

I love spicy tacos. Please tell your son I said hello.

It's different for everyone but I always go into a picture book project with a collaborator in mind. It helps me to visualize the story as I write it. BUT it's important to let the artist bring their own vision to the thing and not over describe what I think the images should be. The Ice Cream Machine was different because I didn't know who would draw the pictures until I was done with the text.

beachfrontprod13 karma

My kids LOVE your books! We have both the original and sequel. We do lots of hypothetical questions during dinnertime and want to pass this one to you. What you think Dragons would do if they were presented with a plate of Nachos... Also, what are some of your favorite books?

Edit: My 11 year old Daughter is DEFINITELY going to be mailing you a story.

rubingo21 karma

Thank you! I think dragons would like nachos. Though they lack the hand-held convenience of tacos. I actually made nachos last night but the chips were too thin and they got soggy real quick.

Some of my favorite picture books are The Stinky Cheeseman, The Incredible Book Eating Boy, The Monster at The End of this Book and Extra Yarn.

Alwayssunnyinarizona13 karma

Awesome of you to do this!

My 5yo wants to know why dragons love tacos so much? Why not hamburgers or chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese?

rubingo59 karma

When I was a kid my dad had a little statue of a dragon eating a taco on his desk. I always remembered that thing because it just seemed to make sense that dragons would love tacos (but not spicy salsa)

123Fake_St10 karma

Kids books are weird, but dragons and tacos?

My kid gets (LOVES) it but I’m dumbfounded at the process. Darts on a boards?

Great book thank you (length and pics espc)

rubingo15 karma

It was inspired by a statue my dad had when I was a kid and the idea just made me laugh.

dflipmac110 karma

Thanks for your books!! My daughter is 9 but very advanced reading level for her age, however she's not much into writing. She feels it's time consuming. It doesn't help that the writing curriculum has fallen by the way side since covid began. She's rather imaginative though. How do I encourage her writing development?

rubingo42 karma

I know exactly what you mean! I know teacher's are under enormous pressures in the classroom so I put together an 18 part video series to help guide kids through the process of writing a story: https://vimeo.com/showcase/adamrubinstorywriting

vonn9010 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this!

Do you have advice for not-so-young writers who want to publish a book for children?

It seems very few publishers nowadays are open to receiving manuscripts from new writers.

rubingo13 karma

I do get this question a lot and I don't have a great answer. I am not a member but I have heard many published picture book authors say that they got their start with https://www.scbwi.org/

throwmeawaypoopy10 karma

We recently moved and just yesterday finally found the box that had "Dragons Love Tacos" in it. Our two older kids loved it when they were younger, and it had our two younger kids in absolute stitches last night. They walked around this morning clutching their stomachs with their tongues lolling out because they have "tummy troubles."

Thank you for bringing so much joy to our family with your wonderful book.

My 10-year old wants to know: what is the most number of tacos you think you could eat in one sitting?

rubingo14 karma

Thank you for sharing and good luck getting settled in the new place! One time at a place in San Diego called Las Cuatro Milpas, I ate ten tacos. I have no regrets.

beekman337 karma

I'm a huge fan - any plans for Dragons Love Tacos Netflix series?

rubingo9 karma

Ha! I don't think so but we do have something new in the works for next year.... A kind or prequel for little little kids

249ba36000029bbe97497 karma

I've heard that your THE ICE CREAM MACHINE book is out of order. Is that true?

rubingo3 karma

The stories are not related in anyway (except for the fact that they all share the same title) so they could technically be read in any order

249ba36000029bbe97497 karma

Sorry, that was just a reference to the "McDonald's Ice Cream Machine Always Being Broken" meme.


rubingo8 karma

woooooooow. I missed that joke COMPLETELY, sorry.

249ba36000029bbe97493 karma

It's relatively obscure compared to the biggest memes but matched your book title too perfectly to pass up. Good luck with your books!

rubingo4 karma

thank you! and good luck finding a cone at micky d's

MisterB787 karma

First off: a huge thank you for writing those books! Our kids absolutely loved them and any time a friend has a kid we always give them copies of some of our favorite books, which always includes Dragons Love Tacos.

For my question: what are your favorite children’s books? (other than your own…)

rubingo11 karma

thank you for sharing our books with your friends! that really means a lot and makes a big impact. I wrote a few suggestions above somewhere but a new book I REALLY like is called In a Jar. It's not the same tone as my books but it's beautiful and profound. I also LOVE a trippy book from the 70's called WHO NEEDS DONUTS?

Rusdino6 karma

Although your books are beloved in our household, there was a direct correlation between the arrival of DLT in our house and the sudden refusal of our then 3 year old daughter to taste any salsa, despite her enjoyment of it in the days before we read the book. How would you respond to critics saying your DLT series has an anti-salsa agenda?

Also, thank you, these are wonderful books that we've read dozens of times now!

rubingo6 karma

obviously this is not the first time i've been accused of being anti-salsa. But in ten years of writing for kids I have learned at least one thing about the human condition: some kids read dragons love tacos and are scared off spicy foods forever, other kids read dragons love tacos and want to guzzle a bottle of cholula so that they can breathe fire.

sharkdrivingabus6 karma

Do you think there should be any liability placed upon the makers of the totally mild salsa with extra spicy jalapenos? Do dragons love lawyers too?

rubingo6 karma

There has actually been some very interesting legal discourse on this subject but I am not at liberty to discuss given pending litigation.

penny_eater6 karma

Whats the conversion ratio between a boatload of tacos and a pantload of tacos? I may have a bet with my 8 year old to settle...

rubingo5 karma

Wow. I have never thought about this before and it's an excellent question. What did you propose? I'm a metric guy so I'd go base ten maybe 1:10 or 1:100?

TheOverSeerDeems5 karma

I read your book and absolutely loved it. What advice do you have for aspiring children's illustrators?

rubingo5 karma

Hmmm. I am not an illustrator so I don't really know what advice to give you but there are a bunch of great organizations for artists who want to make books for kids. Scbwi.org is the fist that comes to mind.

MethChefJeff4 karma

Why do fire breathing beasts dislike spicy food? Too much heat? Can you clear that up brah?

rubingo4 karma

spicy = fire = damage = lawsuit

aelbaum4 karma

Having a custom dust jacket that turns into an envelope sounds like it makes publishing the book more complicated, did the publisher push back on this idea at all, or they appreciated the ingenuity of it? My kids love "Dragons Love Tacos" BTW and my 9 year old is excited for this. I alrwady pre-ordered on Amazon.

rubingo10 karma

They did push back actually. It took some convincing and more than a few "meetings" to convince them. Mostly they were just afraid it would piss people off or confuse them or something. In the end, it probably only cost a fraction of a cent more per book and I think it will be a REALLY cool surprise for a kid that helps prove I really do value their creativity and want to read their story. The funny thing is that it was actually easier to convince the same publisher to make Robo-Sauce which has WAY more complicated print production: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivQ2CQt93rs

rubingo4 karma

and thank you for pre-ordering!

StarchyIrishman3 karma

I want you to know my 2 kids, ages 2 and 7, are OBSESSED with "dragons love tacos" and I can damn near recite the book cover to cover (which is great, is a fun story!). Every time we have salsa in the house, my 2 year old screams "NO DRAGONS! DON'T EAT DAT!". You've greatly influenced my household and its in a great way.

What are some of the most memorable stories you've received from kids? Do they write a story and do the art?

rubingo5 karma

Please tell the whole crew I said Hi and to give that spicy salsa a try (since they are humans and not dragons, I assume)

I have received hundreds of letters from kids who both write and illustrate. The vast majority are what might be loosely considered fan fiction... I'm curious to see what happens with a slightly older audience.

airJordan453 karma

On the final page of Dragons Love Tacos 2, there is a image of "paradise" now that tacos grow on trees. Off memory, I believe we see Abe Lincoln, Hendrix, Patrick Ewing, etc. How did you decide who would be on this page and are there any non-celebrity characters you've hidden in there?

rubingo7 karma

Yes! I posted the official guide above but here it is again: https://twitter.com/Rubingo/status/1242899622168838145?s=20&t=1Z6gHz-8vb42WvqdJJDvVw

Non-celebrities include Me and my wife, my sister's dog, and a logo for an obscure band that Dan likes.

hotdogonabun3 karma

Hi Adam! As one of the coolest people I know of, my questions are:

What are you most proud of?

What are you looking forward to the most?

rubingo6 karma

That's very flattering, too flattering really and I feel uncomfortable but rather than deflect the compliment, I'll just say THANK YOU.

I'm most proud of the group of friends I've collected throughout my life. The fact that I can collaborate with, ask advice from and get drunk in front of such smart and talented people make me feel a warm glow inside.

I'm most looking forward to reading the stories that kids send in from The Ice Cream Machine. I really have no idea what to expect but like I said, I'm hoping to publish the best ones in the paperback edition and i'm thinking it would be fun to get a giant trophy made for each school where a student gets published.

Luvik3 karma


rubingo10 karma

why does anyone like anything? how can we ever truly know? aren't most mysteries best resolved by screaming at children?

carlito223 karma

Did you find it difficult to go from writing ads to writing children’s books? I write the former and would like to write the latter. I’m finding that conceptually it’s easy to come up with interesting ideas for books, but in practice they’re a hell of a lot harder to write than a 30 or 60 second spot. I think I naively thought the transition would be easy. Any advice for someone looking to make the transition from writing about things no one cares about to writing about things someone will hopefully care about. Thank you.

rubingo12 karma

My first advice would be to go to a library with a good picture book section and read a ton of books to find out what you like. Look for old books especially because the new ones sometimes follow weird trends or are trying to meet some specific "marketing objective." Don't worry what kids will like or parents will like or what's educational or popular, just write a story YOU like and feel proud of. Think about pacing. rhythm and surprise are crucial for picture books. remember that the text will be read out loud and you can give the reader an opportunity to act things out or get super dramatic in the telling of the story. I could go on...

carlito223 karma

Thank you. That’s such good advice. I’m definitely guilty of falling into the trap of trying to write the perfect debut book as opposed to just writing something I would love. It’s strange being used to working off a brief and now being able to write about absolutely anything. Strange and a little daunting. And you’re right, old ones are the best, house on east 88th street, how little Lori visited Times Square, anything by Leo Lionni or William Steig (I could go on). One more question if that’s ok, what do you think about writing and critique groups and stuff like courses. My issue is that everyone who teaches aren’t exactly the kind of people whose work I admire, and these crit groups are full of people who haven’t really had anything published. How did you go from working with a partner (art director or copywriter) who you could bounce stuff off to just working on a manuscript by yourself? I know what I should really do is just get off Reddit and start writing, but procrastination is so much easier.

rubingo4 karma

haha. procrastination is my job and writing is my hobby. finding someone you respect to collaborate with is a life long pursuit for some people. if you have a friend with good taste, ask them what they think of your manuscript even if they're not a writer. luckily, it's a lot easier to get someone to read a picture book and give feedback than it is to get them to read a longer book (I found this out the hard way)

ralanr3 karma

So how did you build yourself up as an author? And do you try to keep a daily word count? Planner or pantser (writing at the seat of your pants).

I’m kind of an amateur writer that hopes to be a novelist one day. For now I just try to be saris with what I can create and sell (which isn’t very sfw).

rubingo12 karma

I'm somewhere between a pantser and a planner I guess. The first time I tried to write the book I focused too much on word count and when I was finished, it was such a mess I had to start over. I like to make a visual outline with doodles and notes so I can see the big picture and really ponder all the plot points, character arcs, etc. Then I break it into scenes so the daily writing tasks seem a bit more manageable. My biggest advice is to not worry too much about what will "sell" and focus on writing something you love!

GoTroTro3 karma

Hi Adam, thanks for doing this and my kids love the Squirrels books, hilarious writing. Do you have any plans to pit the squirrels against any other “smart” animals and have Old Man Fookwire be in the (unfortunate) middle? Would be hilarious, my kids always asked if there were any other “smart” animals that could make Fookwire’s life harder!

rubingo3 karma

JRTmom3 karma

Thank you for sharing unique entertaining books that turn kids on to reading. We have enjoyed following your journey and collecting all the books. My son would memorize them before he could read, then take them to read to his granny and grand pop. He even took Those Darn Squirrels to church to read to the pastor.

He’s 11 now and would like to ask what was your inspiration for the squirrel books?

rubingo3 karma

That's so nice to hear! Please tell him thank you for sharing the books with Granny and Grand Pop. The squirrels books were actually inspired by my Dad's background battles with the squirrels. They would steal from his bird feeders and despite his best efforts to stop them, the fuzzy little geniuses always found a way to outsmart him,

AeroGoober3 karma

  1. How do Dragons feel about quesadillas?
  2. Why is the salsa still labeled as “mild” when it says it has spicy jalapeño peppers?

rubingo3 karma

According to some people a quesadilla could technically be considered a taco since the ingredients are folded inside of a tortilla. This is like the hot dog/sandwich debate and I refuse to wade into the controversy. I'll just say that I do think dragons would love quesadillas.

As for you second question, thank you for the spoiler tag. Labels can be confusing as they are often designed by committee inside of convoluted corporate structures. Have you ever taken a good look at what's going on in the tomato sauce aisle? Why is it called soy milk instead of soy juice or almond flour instead of almond powder?

itsafuntime3 karma

Hi Adam! My son has the coolest DLT shirt, a full print on the front of a blue shirt with the dragons blowing fire and tacos raining down.

Is there any chance to get these made in adult sizes? First time I've been truly jealous of my three year old's threads.

Looking forward to the new book!

rubingo3 karma

I have also asked for this shirt to be made in a larger size but no success yet. When they made the pajamas, they sent me a pair of adult-sized pants that I'm too embarrassed to wear even in the privacy of my own home. I DO think there is a dragon's love reading shirt that was made in larger sizes for the ALA a few years back...

stella03 karma

My toddler son adores your books (we even went as Dragons Love Tacos for Halloween!) but the one unfortunate side effect is that he’s become very resistant to trying “spicy” food (and it doesn’t take much for him to declare a dish to be too spicy). Any advice?

rubingo3 karma

Some kids read the book and get scared off salsa, others read the book and want to guzzle hot sauce so they can breathe fire. I don't know what the mitigating factor is but tell him that I personally love super spicy salsa and maybe that will help?

k8heartssandwiches3 karma

First of all, congratulations! Both my daughter and I adore Dragons Love Tacos and you've given me a great new book for my list!

You mentioned being nervous about your new book. As a debut author (my first one is coming in a few weeks) I'm wondering if those nerves get better from book to book?

rubingo3 karma

yes! it gets easier from book to book since you have experience and start to establish an audience/reputation but jumping genres is a big change and little risky.

MoeWanchuk3 karma

We just took our kids to the Dallas Children's Theater this past weekend to see their take on Dragons Love Tacos. They loved the play just as much as the book. Are you involved with the performances or do they just contact you for permission to put on the play?

rubingo3 karma

Nice! They asked for permission but I had nothing to do with it aside from that and I've never seen it myself.

CelticLass3 karma

I'm sure this will be buried, but thank you for both your Dragon books. They are still a favorite for us to read, and I still don't get tired of them. Funny story: My son was a dragon one year for Halloween. We asked him what his sister (3 months at the time) should be. He immediately said a taco, because Dragons Love Tacos. And thus i had to make a taco costume for an infant.

My son is 7 now, and really getting into reading. He even started writing his own story, so your new book sounds like an awesome gift to keep him going!

Thank you so much for keeping things fun and inspiring kids to read, and write!

As for a question: what do you think makes a good children's book?

rubingo3 karma

NOT BURIED! new posts float up to the top! I'm sure your kids made an adorable duo that halloween and I admire your can-do taco crafting skills. As for what makes a good children's book, that's like asking what makes a good song or what makes a good movie! If you like it, it's good for you. There are books I love that most people hate and vice versa but I'm not gonna name any names...

CelticLass3 karma

Thank you so much! Other than your new book, what do you consider must haves for a 8 year olds bookshelf?

rubingo3 karma

Well, I am new to the "middle grade" genre but as a kid I liked Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Encyclopedia Brown and Calvin and Hobbes!

Dragoness423 karma

What's the tune that you use to sing the "Gladys the magic chicken" song when you read it? I make up a slightly different ridiculous tune each time but I've always wondered how far off I am.

rubingo3 karma

the "official" tune is at the end of this video but fair warning, once you hear it, it's hard to get it out of your head: https://twitter.com/rubingo/status/1452981043162714118

slowgonomo3 karma

I have to admit, I had some trouble adjusting to parenthood and reading books to my kids. It was your book and BJ Novak's "The Book with No Pictures" that got me to understand that there is something special about not faking humor or interest in a book. If you are enjoying and laughing as much as your kids, then you are learning AND bonding. That helped bring me closer to understanding that parenthood isn't giving up your personality to pretend to be a parent but sharing your personality (and your child's) with your mutual interests. Thank you! Quick question, how many revisions did it take before you published?

rubingo3 karma

depends on the book but I usually do at least 3-4 full revisions before submitting anything and about the same with the editor's feedback after that.

ctygrl7733 karma

Um, yeah have to get that for my 9 year old, he still loves reading dragons love tacos 1&2 with his little brother. Thanks for the amazing books!! Do you have a favorite illustration from the last page of dragons love tacos 2? The kids like picking through all of them.

rubingo3 karma

I like that Carl Sagan is in there. And Simone Biles who we decided to put in before she dominated at the 2016 games!

getjustin2 karma

Where did the idea behind Big Bad Bubble comes from? It's such a fun read and completely underrated, IMO.

rubingo2 karma

wow thank you! that is our least popular book for sure but I still like it anyway. It was inspired by my friend Mick Napier who founded The Annoyance Theatre in Chicago. His book Improvise is fantastic and his life philosophy is "F--k Fear"

For obvious reasons, I did not quote him in Big Bad Bubble.

pbrothers242 karma

What was your favorite picture book as a kid? Also, what made you choose "accordions" as the entertainment for the big gigantic parties?

rubingo7 karma

I was (and still am) a HUGE Weird Al fan. As a kid, I owned every album on tape and knew all the lyrics by heart. Maybe that was an homage.

As a kid I loved The Monster at The End of This Book and a little later on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series. I also had every Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes book.

SackOfrito2 karma

My daughter Loves "Dragons love Tacos" The only thing she can't figure out is why dragons do not like spicy things? She loves spicy stuff and thinks that everyone should. What's a way I could explain to a 3 year old why Dragons don't like spicy things?

rubingo3 karma

Everyone has different tastes! In oaxaca they eat grasshoppers and mealworms. My wife doesn't like sour pickles but I could eat them at every meal. That's ok! It's why they make different flavors of ice cream.

wittywalrus12 karma

What's the most important thing when planning a book for kids?

rubingo4 karma

For me, it's really important to remember that the book will be read out loud and that each page turn reveals new information. the opportunity for surprise, suspense and humor is different from any other kind of book.

HellscreamGB2 karma

Both of my kids love these books and I wanted to say thanks for writing them!

Is there any plan for a DLT 3?

rubingo3 karma

I'm not sure about DLT3 but we are making a "prequel" (kind of) board book that will be fun for even younger readers.

ex_nihilo2 karma


rubingo5 karma

I'm totally with you on the taco purity and if you're interested in the topic I would recommend reading my friend José's book American Taco: https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/ralat-american-tacos

Our book is like the Pictionary/emoji version of a taco.

... Boxer briefs.

Hemagoblin2 karma

First of all, thank you for writing that book - it’s my daughter’s favorite!

Secondly, do you have a favorite taco recipe? And if so, would you mind sharing it?

rubingo6 karma

I love to use the slow cooker and marinate a pork shoulder in fruit juice (something citrusy like orange or mango or a combo). The meat cooks all day and the whole apartment smells great. Then I shred the meat and cook it in a pan to get it crispy. One tip I leaned in mexico is to toss the corn tortillas over an open flame on the stove for a minute or so on each side (no pan) then you wrap them in a towel and let them steam. Also, good salsa makes or breaks the tacos. Really, I'm unqualified to be giving any culinary advice but tacos are one of my favorite things to cook.

DidSomebodySayWish2 karma

Who is YOUR current favorite children's book author?

rubingo2 karma

Mac Barnett always makes great books.

RamsesThePigeon2 karma

Hi there, Adam!

One the hardest elements of writing for young adults is finding the right balance between density and potency. A twelve-year-old might appreciate something that can only be achieved with the right structure and wordplay, for example, but they might be also be turned off by something that's too subtle or complex.

My question, then, is this: How do you personally work to achieve that balance, and do you find it easier or more difficult than doing the same thing for younger audiences?

rubingo12 karma

To be totally honest, when I write picture books, or "middle grade" or "lower upper middle grade" I don't think about the target demographic so much. Really, I'm trying to write something that I think is good or funny or interesting. I don't mention certain topics, and I might explain a concept that I'm not sure a kid would be familiar with but I never dumb down the language. If kids don't learn new words from books, where will they learn them from?

dgtlfnk2 karma

Our now 6 year old loves both the DLT books! It’s a nice surprise to see you doing an AMA here. And I’m glad I now have a list of your other books to check out/buy! Also thanks for the American Taco heads up.

I just wanted to say those things to you. But a question…? Hmmm. I’ve always assumed dragons would want the spiciest tacos ever, being that they actually breathe fire. I see your comments on the inspiration for the books. But what made you go the other way that dragons would HATE spicy salsa?

rubingo3 karma

Well, I thought maybe it's not so pleasant to breathe fire, even for a dragon. It might burn on the way out and at the very least, it seems inconvenient/dangerous for their surroundings or acquaintances.

SmokeyMcSmokey2 karma

Thank you for Dragons Loves Tacos and congrats on the new book!

Have you ever tried Kogi tacos (Korean short ribs)?

rubingo2 karma

Yes! I love Kogi tacos and would love to meet Roy Choi someday.

airmanhand2 karma

We all know dragons love tacos, but in the alternate universe dragons love diapers. Out of all the other items you could have chose, why diapers?

rubingo3 karma

They are vaguely taco shaped, come filled with a variety of ingredients... Honestly, it was just the funniest thing I could think of.

unidan85052 karma

Did you ever consider the difficulty of reading your book for people with a slight lisp?

My daughter loves your book but I have to concentrate to get through the one page coherently. Thanks for the fun book that isn't a chore to read every night.

rubingo3 karma

You never know what's going to be hard, easy, funny, sad, offensive or shocking to people. Every reader has a different reaction so it's impossible to try and anticipate (and you'll drive yourself insane if you try)

Not-original2 karma

Two of our favorite books to read to the kids were DRAGONS LOVE TACOS and CLICK CLACK MOO.

So thank you for sharing your creativity!

What do you like to read yourself?

rubingo2 karma

I love Click Clack Moo! I met Doreen Cronin early on in my writing career and she was super encouraging. The best book I read lately was Cloud Cuckoo Land.

DunderMifflin20052 karma

My kids adore your books - we have both Dragons Love Tacos and Dragons Love Tacos 2. Excited to read your newest book. Our family owns a Carvel so ice cream is extra special for us.

What could I do to help my kids become more coherent readers?

rubingo5 karma

Let them read WHATEVER they want.

Ders182 karma

Dragons Love Tacos is my daughter’s favorite book! Can you write her a message? Her name is Marlowe and she just turned 6. Thanks for writing a great book, we’ve read it countless times.

rubingo2 karma

Hi Marlowe! Thanks for reading. I hope you have fun out there and continue to find new books that make you smile.

could_use_a_snack2 karma

Congratulations on your success. I too have written a children's picture book. I self published it on Kindle but I'm getting no traction. Got any advice on how to promote a children's book?

rubingo3 karma

The best idea I could come up with was to do an AMA

YourGoodFriend_blank1 karma

I think Dragons Love Tacos is a truly great book and I’ve bought more than a dozen as gifts for new parents. However, your other books are not even close. Have you thought about returning to the narrative structure of Dragons Love Tacos?

rubingo4 karma

Art is in the eye of the beholder. I'm glad I wrote one you love.

KissingEvgeny1 karma

What do you think about kids being raised from infancy by screens? Doesn't that make your job as a paperback children's writer seem more obsolete by the day?

rubingo2 karma

I don't have kids and I would never tell anyone else how to raise their kids but I do feel lucky that I make one of the few objects that has persevered for so many generations and continues to engage people of all ages through a multi-sensory experience. I love the physical object of the book and I always try to find ways to take advantage of the fact that the form exists in meat-space (see dust jacket envelope above and Robo-Sauce!)