The monster with a taste for goats’ blood is at the center of this bilingual tale.
On an isolated ranch, Carla and her dad, Héctor, wake up to an ominous sound. The next day their wide-eyed goats are trembling in a tree—all but one. Carla cycles around their property until she comes upon what looks like a goat pancake. Aside from its head (“¡Blaaaaa!”), the goat is a boneless puddle. “¡EL CHUPACABRAS!” Héctor cries, with the handkerchief-munching cabra draped limply across his arms. A flower peddler offers protective magic dust, but Héctor overdoes it. After a few sneezes, the unhappy goats are taller than the distant town’s church—and they have enormous appetites. The story plays fast and loose with the legend, taking place “a long time ago,” even though the chupacabras reportedly first appeared in Puerto Rico in 1995. Rubin’s fully bilingual text weaves English together with Spanish with no discernable pattern, often switching in the middle of a sentence, which may prove a challenge for some. McCreery’s humorous illustrations (the goats are hilarious) are sometimes at odds with the text. The ranch appears to be in the desert Southwest, but Carla quickly rides her bicycle to a convenient forest. After a goat eats the bell tower, the narrative states there was no “permanent damage.” The chupacabras, described as a “tiny gentleman,” is a visual mix of the Grinch and a simian reptile; Carla and Héctor have brown skin and straight, black hair.
Despite incongruities, Rubin’s silly story and McCreery’s animation-quality artwork will attract eager fans. (Picture book. 4-8)