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Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco De Mayo, MSH # 16 – Chupacabra, Picture Book Review : Is Your Mama A Llama?

Cinco De Mayo is Spanish for the fifth of May.
Myth Buster #1 - it is NOT the Mexican equivalent of the Fourth of July, an independence day. Mexican Independence Day is Septemeber 16th. [I must confess, I was taught and believed this myth. I'm glad I looked it up. Yeah internet for easy research!]

This day is also known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, which is literally translated as "the day of the battle of Puebla". It commemorates the battle for the city of Puebla and their victory against overwhelming odds from French Occupation.

In the US, Cinco De Mayo has become a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride.

Mythological Humanoids #16 – El Chupacabra

El chupacabra means the "goat sucker." Myth Buster #2 – it is NOT a Mexican werewolf. In fact the chupacabra isn't even much of a humanoid. [I'm glad I looked this up, too. I'm not as smart as I thought I was. Two strikes against things I thought I knew. Double yeah for checking facts and easy internet research!]

El chupacabra is a modern myth, according to Wikipedia, started in 1995 with a reported sighting in Puerto Rico, by Madelyne Tolentro, of a small scaly humanoid with big eyes that attacked sheep and drained their blood through three puncture wounds in the chest.

There have been subsequent reports of sightings and blood drainings from Chile to Maine and even in Russia and the Philipines. Most of the reports are from northern Mexico and southern US. Some have tried to connect these reports to a 1975 series of killings with some similarities which were attributed to the Vampire of Moca.

Scientist believe the Vampire of Moca to be vampire bats. But DNA samples of the bizarre carcasses thought to be los chupacabras, have been verified to be mammals, usually dogs, coyotes or foxes, ocassionally rats, cats, squirrels and raccoons with severe, sometimes crippling cases of mange. The mange makes them lose all their hair except for the ridge of spiky fur along the back bone. Some of these animals attack domesticaed livestock because they are too weak to hunt for wild prey. The blood draining has yet to be documented according to Wikipedia.

Picture Book Review : Is Your Mama A Llama? By Deborah Guarino, Pictures by Steven Kellogg, ISBN 0-590-45462-5

[Llamas are native to the Andes Mountains of Peru, not Mexico, but I really like this book and it is still Latin America, so I'll be flexible with my theme.

Plus this book has the added benefit of starting the theme of motherhood. There will be more on that in the next post.

To make my book reviews unique, I use characters from the book series I'm writing, called The SylFae Trees Saga, to discuss the book I'm reviewing. The characters are taken from the first book in that series, Into The Gloaming. I definitely have more exploration of my characters than book review here, but I think it's fun.]

"Hey, Cait," Yolanda calls from her bike on the side of the road. "Toby really liked that book you read to his class today. My mom wants to know what it's called? His birthday's coming up."

Sitting under the dogwood tree reading, Caitlynn grins and says, "I'm glad he liked it! It one of my favorites!" She digs the book out of a backpack and trots over to Yolanda to show her. "It's called Is Your Mama a Llama? And it's by Debrorah Guarino. I think all the kids in his class liked it! It's great book! It's a series of animal riddles for younger kids. The rhymes and the strong beat make it catchy enough to be read over and over again and still be enjoyed, even after the kids know all the answers.

"And the illustrator, Steven Kellogg is one of my favorites too. His art is usually funny with little side stories in the pictures if you look. I think it's a great idea for a birthday present!"

Yolanda looks around. Then she says to Caitlynn without looking at her. "Did you dream about the trees talking about this book, too?" She glances at Caitlynn then away again.

Caitlynn shakes her head. "Jake has a big mouth." She shrugs but hesitates, "Yup, I dreamed the trees were talking about this book. Why?"

"What did the trees say?"

"They liked it a lot."

"What did they say?" Yolanda repeats harder.

Caitlynn shrugs again. "They liked the riddles and the pictures of the trees. They loved the strong beat and the baby animals getting back together with their mothers. They liked the smell of how that made me happy."

"Don't you think it's a little weird?" Yolanda raises an eyebrow and peeks at Caitlynn.

"What?" Caitlynn cocks her head.

"That you dream about trees talking about moms? And there's the fact that you talk about fairies like they're real? Aren't you a little old for that? I mean you're even a year older than me and I grew out of that kind of stuff ages ago."

"I think it's fine." Caitlynn says with a smile.

Yolanda catches Caitlynn's eye and lowers her voice. "I overheard your dad talking to my dad when they were fixing our rain gutters and your dad thinks your mom is too hard on you."

Caitlynn shrugs. "Daddy-George is nicer to me than Mother is sometimes, but that's not anything anybody needs to worry about."

"Why do you call her mother all the time, instead of mom or mommy?"

Caitlynn shrugs again. "Because she wants me to."

Yolanda looks at the sky. "And I heard your mom say you spend too much time with Jake, Brien and Kelly."

Caitlynn laughs. "I don't think I've ever heard Mother complain about Kelly before. Are you sure you're not adding to the story, Yolanda?"

Yolanda looks directly at Caitlynn. "They're a bad influence on you, Cait. You should spend more time playing with Alisha Mulligan and me."

"Thanks Yolanda, maybe I will some time, but I like Jake, Brien and Kelly. I like doing things. I get enough talk about clothes from my mother. But I could ask Kelly and maybe she'd invite you two to come horse back riding with us sometime."

"No, thanks!" Yolanda says with a grimace. "Kelly's horses are dirty."

"Suit yourself, but you don't need to worry about me, Yolanda. I'm fine. And I hope Toby enjoys the book."

"Please don't tell me you have a thing for Jake or Brien!" She puts her hand on her hip and smacks her lips. "You probably wouldn't admit it if you did, but get over it! They're both such jerks!" She sighs. "Well, I guess horses are better for you than fairies. But if you ever want to talk about anything, like how to improve your taste in boys or how much your mom drives you crazy or anything at all, except fairies, I'm a good listener. My mom drives me crazy, too, so we can swap stories."

"Thanks for caring, Yolanda. I'm good for now, but I'll remember that if I ever need to talk!" Yolanda waves and rides off. Caitlynn waves and goes back to reading her book under the dogwood tree.

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