ChupaCarter

ChupaCarter
Author(s)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
8+
Release Date
August 30, 2022
ISBN
978-0593465974
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In this illustrated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Jorge is lonely and resentful after being sent to live with his grandparents. His first day at his new school doesn’t go well after catching the attention of his belligerent principal and the school bullies, so Jorge might be a little desperate for a friend.
 
But the only kid who shares his interest in junk food and games turns out to be a young chupacabra—a legendary monster whose kind is known for being bloodthirsty livestock killers. The truth is, Carter is anything but savage—he's kind, a good listener, and has great taste in sneakers. Being friends with a mythical creature should be amazing, but when local cattle turn up dead and his principal suspects the truth, Jorge is torn. Should he trust that his friend is innocent and protect him from exposure, or reveal his dangerous existence and change the world forever?

Editor review

1 review
Unlikely friends stick together
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
What worked:
I can’t say I’ve seen many, if any, books where the mythical Chupacabra is an actual character. Carter is lurking near the home of Jorge’s grandparents, out in the middle of nowhere, and his reason for being there is revealed later in the plot. However, Carter’s not what readers might expect. He has a need to drink blood but he’s not a blood-thirsty monster. Despite being seven feet tall, the creature wears a tank top, shorts, and Converse high-top tennis shoes. He’s mischievous with a sense of humor and Jorge finds it easy to become friends. This friendship between two unlikely characters is a highlight of the book.
Jorge struggles with emotional issues and experiences fits of anger. He admits that his sassy mouth often gets him into trouble and it contributes to being kicked out of school. His mother dumps him with his grandparents on a barren farm in New Mexico, so Jorge feels abandoned. His abuela is not a sweet, understanding, supportive granny so his new home life presents additional stress. School is no better as Jorge’s temper pits him against a gang of older bullies and lands him in front of an intimidating principal. The man has traveled the world hunting big game and his office walls are covered with mounted heads of animals he’s killed. The principal says he’ll be lurking and hunting Carter for any little future infractions so Jorge finds little comfort at school. It’s not a far stretch to predict the principal will eventually pick up Carter's trail. The author offers the principal as an effective antagonist but other creatures are introduced later.
The author includes Spanish vocabulary and it’s integrated well throughout the plot. This is mostly done using words and phrases although there are some short sentences. Readers can use context from events to understand the meanings so the words don’t pose a problem or distract from the story. Monstruo, amigo, este bien, hombre, and other Spanish terms are either defined or can be figured out. The vocabulary adds authenticity to the story’s culture without fully immersing the language in a way that might overwhelm young readers.
What didn’t work as well:
The resolution leaves questions about what happens to the evil perro and ChupaCarter. There’s a strong inference regarding what happens to ChupaCarter but it would be nice to have something more definitive tying Jorge and ChupaCarter together. There are implications a sequel might be on the way but I don’t know if that’s actually in the plans.
The Final Verdict:
Young readers will enjoy ChupaCarter’s friendly, mischievous personality and his ferocity when defending his good friend Jorge. The highly entertaining story is a mixture of adventure, drama, and humor and it touches on Jorge’s conflicted feelings about home. I recommend you give it a shot, especially if you like monsters and fun.
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