There were lots of them,
they were hairy,
they were wet,
they were too big.
There was no room for them.
But the capybaras couldn’t go home
because hunting season had begun.
In The Capybaras, all was calm for a flock of hens who were living a restful and peaceful life in their coop. One day, a group of capybaras appeared, creating confusion and an element of excitement among the chickens. The hens quickly established rules and boundaries for the capybaras, assertively informing them not to make any noise or exit the water. However, the two groups quickly band together once it was realized that the capybaras hunting season was to begin. Soon enough, the capybaras were keeping the chickens company in the coop. Once hunting season ended, the chickens and capybaras left the farm together as newly found friends.
The idea of a children’s book featuring capybaras is unique, this one being exceptionally captivating. One wonders how the chickens will react to their visitors, adding a new level of hilarity since hens and capybaras are unlikely to interact in the real world. The author makes it altogether plausible and convinces the reader that the chickens have a legitimate problem.
In addition to the unconventional nature of the text, the illustrations in The Capybaras are engrossing and unusual in their starkness and scant use of colour. The detailed drawings mostly feature blacks, greys, and browns, but are highlighted with a bright red colour sparingly used on each page, either for the hens’ combs, the hunters’ ballcaps, or the red roof of the chicken coop. It has an appealing effect. To break up the potential monotony of colour, some pages feature full-page illustrations while others have comic book-like panels. The pencil work is fine and detailed, lending great expression to the animals’ faces, especially the element of fear on the capybaras faces in contrast with the haughtiness of the chickens. All of these elements combine to create a fun and joyful book.
Roxy Garstad is the Collections Librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.