Behold, the Chupacabra!!!
What’s a chupacabra you may ask? No one really knows what they look like, for they’ve never been caught. The name literally means “goat sucker.”
When Ana Aranda, the illustrator for this book, was growing up in Mexico, she and her friends told stories about the chupacabra. How you shouldn’t let your chickens, goats, or small children stay outside late at night. The chupacabra might eat them or suck their blood like a vampire!
Many have questioned its existence, but in this imaginative story, we find three goats who decide to go on the offense against a chupacabra. Their plan? Find it before it finds them.
But it’s dark, so one goat decides to light their way with a candelabra. Exactly the wrong thing to do. Why?
Turns out that candelabras are the chupacabra’s third favorite thing to eat. He swallows it whole.
But the chupacabra is still ravenous and demands more. So the goats flee to their home, searching for another candelabra so he won’t eat them. The chupacabra surprises them at home, and finds his second favorite thing to eat: cucarachas!
But after he’s tossed down the only cucaracha in sight, he’s still starving. The goats shudder as the chupacabra tells them they’ve still got his favorite thing to eat. Backed up against a wall, they repeatedly suggest other hilarious possibilities to no avail…What will happen?
Tension builds…and at the page turn we learn that the favorite thing a chupacabra likes to eat is goat—
A perfect ending to this tale.
Attention picture book writers: note the detailed characterization for each goat:
Their personalities come through in everything they choose to do or say, making this a terrific mentor text for characterization. It’s also a good mentor text to study tension-building and how humor is used to both heighten and relieve tension. The author keeps you smiling and turning the pages.
Ana Aranda, the illustrator of this book,
was a featured presenter at Kidquake this year. She described her process for creating the vibrant backgrounds for so many of the spreads. After papering the walls of a room, she would attach a canvas to one wall, and then play a game of ping pong with a tooth brush and paint. You can see the richly textured result in the spread and cover shots shown above.
Aranda also worked hard to make the chupacabra less threatening for younger readers. If you Google images for a chupacabra, they can be quite terrifying and evil-looking. The audience for this book will find this chupacabra scary, but not toooo scary, pretty much along the lines of the big bad wolf in the Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood.
TITLE: The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra
AUTHOR: Marc Tyler Nobleman
ILLUSTRATOR: Ana Aranda
PUBLISHER: Penguin – Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017
AGE RANGE: ages 4 to 8
For a little history and scientific explanation about the evolution of the chupacabra’s folktale, check out:
More Perfect Picture Books can be found at Susanna Hill’s website.