El Chupacabras

El Chupacabras illus. by Crash McCreery. 48p. Dial. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399539299.
BLK-Gr 3—A fabled creature becomes an unexpected hero in this wacky bilingual picture book. Carla and her father Hector live happily on a goat farm surrounded by cacti and mountains. However, the wide-eyed, fearful expression on a number of their goats hints at a looming danger. After one of the goats goes missing, Carla bikes off in search of the bovid, only to find him flat as a tortilla. According to legend, El Chupacabras, or Goat Sucker, is a terrifying creature, but really he is a reptile-like "tiny gentleman," who wears a monocle, enjoys churros con chocolate, and, yes, the occasional goat. A passing flower peddler offers Hector magic dust for protection, but the plan backfires, and the goats turn into giants. Carla quickly realizes only El Chupacabras can bring the livestock back down to size. Rubin mixes and alternates between English and Spanish text. McCreery's images enhance and complement Rubin's offbeat narrative through vivid, realistic illustrations. Shifts from detailed close-ups to expansive scenic panoramas give the book a cinematic feel.
VERDICT An intriguing title that firmly establishes a modern Latin American legend into the cryptid canon. Highly recommended.

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