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Those who know Seema Vora Bakhru best also know that she loves tacos. From recipes to social media, this first-time author has always gravitated (and ate!) tacos in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Inspired by a love of tacos, a creative mind and her own two young boys, Seema started thinking about how her obsession with tacos could be a fun book for kids.
“I knew I wanted the book to be light-hearted and fun, but also mirror some of the situations that kids deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Seema recalled. “I knew I wanted the main character to be a taco, but not just any taco. I wanted Max the Taco to have a strong sense of self and be a role model for our sons Ryan and Dylan and for young readers all over the world as well.”
The more she pondered on the idea, the more the story evolved. The more the story evolved, the more valuable lessons came to light. Soon, the storyline for A Taco for El Presidente was born.
“I wrote this book as a way to have a conversation with our children about what’s going on today,” Seema shared. “As an American and a child of immigrants, I wanted to show how lucky we are to be Americans; lucky to be who we are, as we are. I hope that the values of authenticity, open-mindedness, and courage come through.”
Teaming up with illustrator, edwardo, Seema published her children’s picture book A Taco for El Presidente in January of 2017. As the story goes, Max the Taco is accepted to be on one of the best food trucks in the country, but the truck manager has no imagination when it comes to tacos and wants Max to be a certain way and only have certain fillings. Max does not want to compromise who he is or his love of trying new things, has a hard time fitting in with the rules.
“As the story evolved, so did the political atmosphere in our country. It was my husband who suggested that we add a little political spin on this, but do so in a very subtle way,” Seema noted. “I liked the idea and decide to weave in a conflict involving the fact that El Presidente, who didn’t like tacos, was coming to visit Max’s food truck. The nervousness of the truck manager and the El Presidente’s ultimate reaction after trying a taco is a sweet and poignant lesson on understanding, compassion and open-mindedness that is a true example of what our world could be like.”
Max the taco doesn’t like being the same as everyone else. He doesn’t want to be just an ordinary taco. He wants to explore, try new things, and be adventurous. Senor Jalapeno, the taco truck manager, wants Max to be normal and fit in, especially since the El Presidente is going to visit the taco truck soon.
However, Max knows that the El Presidente doesn’t like tacos—at all! Will Max be true to himself and explore new flavors? Will he entice the El Presidente to try something new? And will the President decide that tacos really are GREAT. Will he decide that the fact that there are so many flavors of tacos is what makes America GREAT? Readers will love the journey this book takes them on along with Max’s personal journey about learning to be himself.
“A Taco for El Presidente is also a light way for parents to talk to their kids about the intensity of what is going on in our nation right now,” Seema noted. “My ultimate hope is that parents, teachers and librarian use this book to encourage conversations and open up dialogues about celebrating diversity and simply being ‘you.’ And if kids everywhere suddenly wanted more tacos, that’s good too!”
When not formulating her next children’s book, Seema enjoys exploring new places in New Jersey or visiting Princeton University’s campus with husband, Jay, and their two boys. For those who have dreamed of publishing their own children’s book, Seema had this advice to give.
“Just start. Just start putting words on paper,” she advised. “Unless you do, your dream of publishing a book ‘someday’ will never happen because ‘someday’ will never come. Even if it’s ten minutes a day…just do it. Watching your story come to life is such a fulfilling thing, but you will never know that feeling until you take the first step.”
Seema resides in New Jersey and, when not hunting for delicious tacos and dreaming up new children’s book ideas, she enjoys spending time with her family discovering new museums and restaurant with her family. Connect with Seema and Max the Taco on their website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.