Adam Rubin has a very distinct sense of humor. He’s been writing and publishing children’s books for 14 years and always infuses his texts with that trademark silliness. Before becoming a New York Times bestselling author, Rubin worked in ad agencies as a creative for a decade. Everything changed when Rubin was introduced to illustrator Daniel Salmieri by a college friend. The two men had a shared sense of humor and decided to collaborate. The result was their first of nine books together, Those Darn Squirrels. They would make two more Squirrels books and followed that with one of their biggest hits, Dragons Love Tacos. Rubin kept working in advertising until 2015 when he made enough from book sales to be a full-time writer. There is a strong influence from the classic newspaper comic strip The Far Side in Rubin and Salmieri, an off-beat weirdness that makes for addictive reading. Now he devotes himself to writing new books and traveling around the country to bookstores and schools to meet his readers. Below are three books I highly recommend if you are looking for something tremendously silly to share with your students.
Those Darn Squirrels (Clarion Books)
Old Man Fookwire is your typically grumpy elder. He grumbles about everything except for his precious birds. He loves to paint portraits of his birds and keeps the bird feeder full to discourage migration. Unfortunately, it’s the bird feeder that does in old Fookwire as the clever squirrels discover it is an excellent source of food for them as well. Once the old man becomes aware of this, he sets out a series of traps to stop them, starting with simple ones and leading up a complex laser-riddled obstacle course. Rubin’s unique sense of humor shines through right out of the gate. This isn’t a story about moralizing but just a fun distraction from the world for young readers. Salmieri’s illustrations feel like a loving tribute to the work of Dan Larson on the Far Side. Fookwire visually takes after his precious birds, and the squirrels with their bulging bellies provide many laughs.
Dragons Love Tacos (Dial Books)
This would be the breakout hit for Adam Rubin, becoming a frequent favorite in school and classroom libraries across the United States. A nameless child protagonist informs the reader of the rich history of dragons and their legendary love of tacos. Anything goes for these foodies, except for spicy salsa, which causes them to smoke and fume. Our main character sets out a delicious taco party table for his dragon guest. But wouldn’t you know it? He leaves out a jar of mild salsa with jalapenos in it. Unfortunately, the salsa is not so mild, and the dragons proceed to burn the house down accidentally. No worries, though. The dragons help rebuild it at no charge. That is except for some more tacos.
Secret Pizza Party (Dial Books)
Dragons may love tacos, but the raccoon protagonist craves a big slice of pizza. He salivates thinking about the gooey cheese, salty pepperoni, sweet sauce, and crispy crust. However, because he is a raccoon, humans don’t want to share their pizza with him. They see him as a pest! Can you imagine such a thing? So the raccoon dons a trenchcoat and fedora with plans to have a secret pizza party where he can enjoy this delicious food without judgment. Unfortunately, Greediness gets the best of him. Before beginning his private pizza party, he notices a masquerade ball next door. The black fur around his eyes would help him fit right in. And they are serving pizza at this ball! How could he resist! I’m sure you can infer how this all ends. It’s another wonderful humorous tale from a mind that feels perfect for our current era.