Once Upon A Time in Dragonland

Once Upon A Time in Dragonland
Había una vez en Dragolandia

Available also in Big Book format


Life is pleasant and orderly in Dragonland, where a family of dragons live. The most surprising feature of these huge and amazing creatures is their voracious appetite which they can only satisfy eating vehicles. The father’s favorite meals are trains, particularly when their engines are very hot. The mother is always in a diet, so she limits herself to station wagons and an occasional bicycle. When an unsuspecting small plane appears in Dragonland, Baby Dragon believes he has found a tasty snack. The plane quickly flies away and Baby Dragon follows it. Noticing the baby gone the parents fly on pursuit.

This fantasy story is a por quoi pas story, that is, a story that pretends to explain the reason for something unusual, in this case, the reason for thunder and lightening –the huge dragons still flying in the sky.


This story is of particular meaning to me, because it was the first original story I ever created. I had published many books before I wrote Había una vez en Dragolandia, but all of them were retelling of previously existing stories, adaptation of stories into plays, or anthology of poetry written by other poets.

This story came to me unexpectedly. I was teaching a summer course of Children’s Literature in Spanish, probably one of the firsts to ever be taught in this country, at UTEP, the University of Texas in El Paso. It was a very hot day, and as I was returning after dinner to the dorm where I was staying I was carrying on a silent conversation with myself, more of a reprimand, by having broken my diet one more time.

As I walked in the heat it seemed as if vapor was coming out my mouth. And at that moment I became “la señora Dragoneta” this oversized dragon incapable of keeping a diet. I rushed into the dorm and before I knew it, the whole story in verse, had been written.

Había una vez en Dragolandia was published as part of my reading series Hagamos caminos, with whimsical illustrations by Ulises Wensell. I always dreamed to see it published, both in English and Spanish, as a books. It is a dream that took more than 30 years to become true. But now it has, proving once more that we must hold on to our dreams and never give up until seeing them become reality.


Feel free to download and reproduce the two pages of activities in Spanish to accompany the reading of this story.

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