Saving Chupie

Harper­Alley. Aug. 2023. 224p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9780062950284.
Gr 3-6–Bursting with excitement, Violeta lands with her family in Puerto Rico. Her grandmother Marta is finally going to reopen her restaurant. Violeta wants to be a part of this post–Hurricane Maria rebuilding, but her family pushes back. Violeta feels dejected and bored, but soon makes two friends her age: Diego and Lorena. When cattle turn up dead, the locals blame a chupacabra, which Violeta does not believe in until a very real chupacabra saves her from a trap. Violeta names him Chupie and, afraid for his safety, hides him. Once her friends are in on the secret, they realize that Chupie must return to his mom. Concurrently, an international “rare creatures smuggling ring” puts pressure on Lorena’s uncle to capture a chupacabra. Ortiz writes believable, well-developed characters seeking connections to family and friends. Vazquez uses the format to great effect with lush, rich colors bringing the island to life. Variable paneling and stunning full-page illustrations contribute to the pace. The ending is feel-good with reunions on all sides, human and mythical.
VERDICT Highly recommend this fantasy-realism hybrid with plenty of action and humor.

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