I will start off with while I understand why people like The Capybaras by Alfredo Soderguit, I am not really sure why people were passionate about it. Yes, I like the idea of “being different” and we “set rules” to “protect” us, but that story has been done before. Okay, they are capybaras, and those things are stinking cute, but still not sure why so crazy about a story about them, and it is not even about them. Then there is the part about the hunting season. Okay, I am getting the Capybaras are now refugees (from war/being hunted) and are different looking and okay, I do like a story that separates the serious theme of “looking like us” vs. “not looking like us” so it helps us to not use our biases (you see a person that looks like X, you will have (good or bad) feelings/opinions about it. But capybaras we tend to be neutral about and we then are able to “step back” from the situation).
Still, I enjoyed it, but not in an OMG BEST BOOK EVERY SO WE HAVE TO BUY EVERY COPY AND MAKE OUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE NOT HAVE IT TO SELL TO OTHERS way. (And I admit that lack of availability probably colored my opinion.)
I like the overall feeling. At first, I was getting (oddly enough) happy Animal Farm vibes. I mean, the hens and chickens are settled in their ways and do know how to rule the roost, but they were not aware of the real troubles around them. (Let us say we start with twelve chickens and various chicks and end up with eleven and various chicks.) And you never see the humans, just their backs and feet, so that “otherness” comes into play. You are taken out of the “farm” and into a “world where there are animals running things.” And maybe that was really what tossed me out of sync. Um, hello? I love a good chicken dinner but um… pay attention please.
And then there is the art. There is nothing wrong with it, but it was just not “my thing.” It is simple, not simplistic, and not overly colorful. There is a very classic vibe to it (1940s and 1950s), to the look of things. The tone of the text is that same old school vibe. This combination makes it softer than the subject but does not dilute the message. The lack of color and minimal details makes the reader pay attention.
I am not sure if this is really for the young picture book crowd, but it is not not for them, too. The scenes that are dealing with the more serious aspects are handled well, but obvious what could be happening. Overall, know yourself and your reader to find that “sweet spot” reader.