Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cousin Cuisine: Mud Tacos by Mario Lopez and Marissa Lopez Wang

One morning at Nana's house, Mario found a big cardboard box.

"Hmmm!" he said. "This has possibilities."

Marissa giggled. Whenever her big brother said that, fun followed.

In their imaginations, brother and sister soon turn the box into a restaurant table and Mario scours Nana's yard for floppy big leaves, suitably malleable mud, and flower petals for garnish, turning his creation into a "wormy, squirmy, muddy, leafy" taco for his customer. They're admirable as a work of art, but Marissa's appetite is turned off! "Ewwwww!" is all she can say.

But real tacos for lunch sound like a good idea, and the kids are soon off, with Nana's blessing, to pick up their cousins Chico and Rosie and make a grocery store run for the ingredients for real tacos. Back home, with Nana in the kitchen with the taco fixings, Mario and Marissa invite the two cousins back outside to visit their pretend restaurant, Chico proclaims himself too big for such childish games of make believe.

"Now that I'm big, I never pretend," boasts Chico.

But the three younger cousins together are too smart for Chico, and soon they have him worming and squirming his way out of eating their mud tacos for real.

It's saved by the lunch bell for Chico, and as they head inside for Nana's, the cousins all agree that while it's fun to make mud tacos...

"...the best thing about them is NOT having to eat them!"

Free-form imaginative play is the subject of Mario Lopez' and Marissa Lopez-Wang's apparently autobiographical tale, Mud Tacos (Celebra Books, 2009), exuberantly illustrated by Maryn Roos. Pair this one with Aaron Reynolds' spicy Chicks and Salsa to cook up a story time topped with plenty of OLEs!

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