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.

Image Gallery