Friday, November 30, 2018

Review - El Chupacabras

El Chupacabras
by Adam Rubin
illustrated by Crash McCreery
Date: 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: library

From the bestselling author of Dragons Love Tacos comes a whimsical re-telling of the chupacabra folktale, written in a blend of English and Spanish

A long time ago, a girl named Carla lived on a goat farm with her father, Hector. One night, a goat disappeared from the farm and turned up flat as a pancake. Only one creature could do that--El Chupacabras, the goatsucker! Legend has it that El Chupacabras is a fearsome beast, but you can't believe everything you hear...and sometimes the truth is even more interesting.

Told in equal parts English and Spanish by bestselling author Adam Rubin, and cinematically illustrated by acclaimed Hollywood creature creator Crash McCreery, this lighthearted take on a modern legend is not told in the traditional bilingual style.

Each sentence is half-Spanish/half-English followed by a repetition of the same line translated the other way around. This mirroring technique allows the languages to intermingle equally. A fun and unique way to introduce either Spanish or English to new readers.

A note from author Adam Rubin: "I decided to tell this story in an unusual way to explore the beauty of harmony. It's easy to dismiss the unfamiliar, but compassion takes a little more effort. With so many people trumpeting divisiveness right now, it's more important than ever to teach kids that there is more than one way to understand the world."

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I actually did not think I was going to like this one at first. Between the e-book acting up (making it so that I couldn't even see a bunch of the pages) and the weird half-Spanish/half-English sentences, I was about ready to give up. But the illustrations are so gorgeous that they kept me turning the pages (what pages I could see), and I started getting used to the bilingual text. By the time I got to the end, the e-book had decided to behave, and I was able to read all the pages. What we have here is a funny, charming story about el chupacabras, a goat-sucking creature who ends up saving the day.

El chupacabras isn't as scary as you might expect. Yes, he sucks goats (leaving them as goat pancakes, which was actually pretty funny to see illustrated). But he's also a gentleman who likes to eat chocolate and churros. After Carla's father gets into trouble with some magic dust, Carla enlists the help of el chupacabras to save the town from a herd of giant, marauding goats.

The illustrations... Oh, my goodness. I loved them. They strike just the right balance between beauty and humour, depicting the humans, goats, and mythological creature in stunning detail. I'm definitely going to be watching for more work from this artist!

So, despite a bumpy start, this book turned out to be quite good. It introduces the myth of el chupacabras in a fun way, and teaches a little bit of Spanish (or English, as the case may be) while it's at it. I'd definitely recommend this one!

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4.33 out of 5

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