A reluctant hero makes guinea pigs cool in this illustrated chapter-book sequel set in Peru.
The escapades of the “Roughest, Toughest, Orange Mohawkiest Guinea Beast of the East” continue in this second Juicy Jack Adventures book by author Carrasco and illustrator De la Vega (Juicy Jack Adventures: Meet the Wild Pack, 2014). Jack, a large guinea pig with a lightning-bolt–shaped mohawk, and his human, BT, are visiting BT’s abuela (grandmother) in Peru. As Jack wakes up in his cozy cage, he’s startled by Eva, a member of the gang of wild guinea pigs that Jack rescued in the previous book. Pablo, Eva’s father and leader of the Wild Pack, has a request: will Jack represent their Moche Clan in the annual Atacama Race against the local chinchillas? Tempted but unsure, Jack meets the Reina de los Cuy, or Queen of the Guinea Pigs. She believes that Jack, because of his size and proven bravery, could be the first guinea pig to win the race in a thousand years. He’s honored but still unconvinced, so he’s “guinea-napped” by Eva and Pablo into an apple truck that takes him to the race. Lando, a member of the Wild Pack, finally agrees to race in Jack’s place, but Pablo keeps “teasing and bossing Jack around,” which makes him feel like “he was always out of his element with the Wild Pack.” Jack wavers between amusing bravado (as when he “put his paws into guinea-drive”) and self-doubt in realistic inner monologues and banter with others. The well-paced action keeps the pages turning, as when human cazadores (hunters) with guns cause chaos, Pablo and Lando go missing, and Jack and Eva must “save the guineas, the chinchillas, and ourselves.” Carrasco offers gentle morals about bravery and self-confidence, although parents may find that bullying behavior is dismissed too easily. De la Vega’s pen-and-ink illustrations wittily enhance characters’ expressions and settings, such as a monkey-shaped racetrack, that would otherwise be hard to envision. Supplementary pages include a Spanish-English glossary, reading comprehension activities, and additional facts about Peru.
Young readers will enjoy Jack’s adventures while learning about the value of loyalty and a little about Peruvian culture.