Pizza and Taco - Who's the Best?
by Shaskan, Stephen

Best friends Pizza and Taco engage in a hilarious campaign to prove which of them is the best, inviting their friends Hot Dog and Hamburger to help them prove themselves during a popularity contest that tests the strength of their bond. Illustrations.

STEPHEN SHASKAN has written and illustrated a dozen children's books. His debut picture book, A Dog Is a Dog, was a New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing Selection and was a CCBC Choices Book. He holds a BFA in illustration from Rhode Island School of Design, and worked with kids for twenty years as an early childhood educator and an after-school and summer art teacher. He performs musical storytimes, presents at schools, conferences, and festivals, and teaches comic classes to kids. Stephen lives with-and often collaborates with-his wife, Trisha Speed Shaskan, in Minneapolis. Visit him at

Pizza and Taco are the ultimate best-besties-finishing each other's sentences, sharing a love of super-awesome waterslides, doing cool best-friend dances-but when Taco declares that Pizza is the best, Pizza-instead of returning the compliment-agrees! Thus begins a fierce but friendly contest to determine who is actually best. After a vote ends in a one-to-one tie and a waterslide competition leaves the winner undetermined, their exploration of "the true meaning of being best" leads each to recognize the best in the other. This book's hilarity is rooted in the charming design of its characters: Shaskan fills bold outlines with photographic images of sauce and cheese (for Pizza) and ground beef (for Taco), using round eyes, curving mouths, and stick limbs to produce surprisingly emotive and endearing interactions. The visual comedy is matched by the absurd storyline, which is littered with smaller laughs as the pair cycles between mutual adoration and intense rivalry. Straightforward paneling and simple dialogue make this a perfect choice for early readers beginning their climb to Dog Man. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Anthropomorphic foodstuffs campaign for their own excellence. Shaskan goes for the goofy with this graphic-early-reader series opener. Each of the book's five chapters revolves around Pizza and Taco, who are such "BEST-BESTIES!!!" that they finish each other's sentences. One day, the friends—who are literally a slice of cheese pizza and a beef taco—come to a stalemate over who is the best. They ultimately put it to a vote, but Pizza—aka "Cheaty McCheato"—deliberately misreads the ballot. They bring in another set of BFFs, Hot Dog and Hamburger, to settle things once and for all. But what does being "the best" mean anyway? Does it have anything to do with fist bumps or butt bumps? If so, Pizza and Taco are solid. Though appropriately repetitive, the plot packs a contagiously zany sense of humor that pairs well with series like Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss' Noodleheads and Ben Clanton's Narwhal and Jelly. Shaskan's distinctive character design combines cartoon illustration with photography, augment ing the humor. Recycled catchphrases like "AWESOME!" and "YAAAS" keep the lightness going—although the pair's constant dismissal of Hamburger is a little disconcerting. The sparse backgrounds—most often a blue polka-dot sky set above simple shapes—help make the white speech bubbles readable. The well-paced, easy-to-follow structure keeps the panel count at six or fewer per page. YAAAS! This lunch bunch serves pure silliness. (Graphic early reader. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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