Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, March 31, 2017

Of Legends And Laughter

Have you ever heard of

a study and search for animals and especially legendary animals usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence (Merriam-Webster)?

This is called cryptozoology.  The creatures being searched for and studied are named cryptids.  Over the course of sometimes more than one thousand years people have claimed to have seen them but no one has yet to provide undisputed scientific evidence of their reality.

One of these mysterious living things has reportedly been sighted on more than one occasion since the mid-nineteen nineties.  A recent publication, The Chupacabra Ate The Candelabra (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, March 7, 2017) written by Marc Tyler Nobleman with illustrations by Ana Aranda, dispels with great hilarity any previous beliefs about this being.  It all begins with goats.

As the sun set, the goats met.

Three goats, going by the names Jayna, Bumsie and Pep, are gathered outside to enjoy a picnic.  Jayna informs the other two tonight is apt to be the night when the chupacabra comes to dinner not as a guest but to eat them as entrees.  Bumsie is shaking in her hooves at this news.  Pep views it as completely rude and lacking in dietary variety.

Jayna proposes they make the first move, locating the villain.  To light their way in the night he reveals a candelabra.  Single file they cautiously proceed across the landscape.  Suddenly a voice interrupts their quiet conversation.

It's the chupacabra!  Within seconds they are plunged into darkness.  The candelabra has been consumed by the chupacabra.

They are momentarily puzzled by his culinary choice but he informs them candelabras are his

third-favorite thing.  

And he wants more.  Promising to bring him another one, they hurry back to their abode.  As the sun rises with them looking high and low for another candelabra, the chupacabra makes an appearance.

Yikes!  He followed them home?! Before they can even comprehend this turn of events, several other requests have them in a total tizzy.  The trio's suggestions are unwelcome.  There is only one thing and one thing alone which will appease this glutton's appetite.  Gulp!

Readers are undoubtedly wondering if Marc Tyler Nobleman had as much fun writing this story as they do reading it.  The conversations between his characters are full of comedy clearly portraying their personalities.  Using rhyming and alliteration his narrative literally dances off the pages.  Here is a sample passage.

"Come on goats!" Jayna said.  "I say we find the chupacabra before he finds us!  I say we scare him off before he eats us!  Who's with me?"
Nobody answered.
"I said, who's with me?"
"Silly," Bumsie said.  "Everyone is right here."
"I mean who's going with me."
"I would...," Pep said, "but it's too dark."
"Not with this," Jayna said, whipping out a candelabra.

The bright, cheerful color palette on the black canvas displayed on the front and back of the dust jacket is an open invitation to the playful narrative within the pages.  The chupacabra is looking very excited in anticipation of a hearty meal of goat.  The goats, hidden among the grass and flowers, are looking none too happy.  To the left, on the back, the four characters are framed in the same delicate floral ovals holding candelabras (except for you know who) with their names beneath their portraits.  The chupacabra happens to be wearing a bib and holding eating utensils. The text reads:

Three goats out on a daring mission.
One chupacabra out on an empty stomach.
Zero chance of their encounter going smoothly.

The book case background is a blend of sunny yellows and orange.  On the right is a gorgeous candelabra in hues of blue with delicate details.  To the left is the hungry chupacabra ready to gobble it up.  The opening and closing endpapers are a dark teal with a pattern of the chupacabra, in purple, engaged in numerous activities like watering his plants, playing soccer, riding his bike, painting and trying to break a pinata.  Wonderful stylized flowers fill in the spaces.

Rendered in watercolor, inks, gouache, and cochineal with spices and orange on watercolor paper by Ana Aranda most of the illustrations span two pages.  For pacing and emphasis Ana may shift to single pages or several small pictures on one page.  These are loosely framed with elements breaking out of the border.

Readers are going to enjoy stopping and looking at all the tiny elements in Ana's visuals; items hanging in the windows of the chupacabra's home, Spanish and English words on a sign, the smiling sun and crescent moon, the attire worn by the characters, and the cross-section of the goats' residence.  Are those mice in the roof peaks?  They are going to chuckle at the item on the chupacabra's bib.

One of my favorite of several illustrations is when the chupacabra first jumps out at the goats.  It's on a single page.  The background in a wash of reds with the chupacabra a startling black silhouette.  Jayna and Pep are open-mouth and staring.  Bumsie has fainted in fright.  The Welcome mat has flown into the air with a bite missing courtesy of Bumsie.

Read The Chupacabra Ate The Candelabra written by Marc Tyler Nobleman with illustrations by Ana Aranda silently, aloud to your dog (Mulan loved it.) and to anyone who will listen and trust me, they will listen.  This story is brimming with humor, snappy dialogue and wonderful surprises.  You are going to want to add it to your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ana Aranda please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Ana Aranda also maintains a blog.  At the publisher's website you can get a peek at the title page.  The cover reveal is found at Latinxs in Kit Lit.  You can enjoy more interior images at Forces of Geek including one of my favorite pictures.