Book Review: The Capybara Conspiracy by Erica S. Perl

The Capybara Conspiracy is a middle grade novel by Erica S. Perl.  Seventh-grade playwright Olive Henry is frustrated by her middle school’s lack of appreciation for anything but sports. While the principal drones on and on during morning announcements about the sports teams’ victories, all non-athletic club meetings are relegated to the school basement, never to be mentioned on the loudspeaker. So Olive and her best friend, Reynaldo, hatch a plan to kidnap the school’s capybara mascot, planning to return it, heroically, just in time for the school’s pep rally and claim a reward: permission for their drama club to practice in the auditorium. And, hopefully, some overdue respect for the school’s non-athletes. But when an animal-rights student activist and an undercover athlete with murky motivations join in the conspiracy, their plans—along with Cappy the capybara—veer wildly out of Olive’s control.

The Capybara Conspiracy is written in play format, which is not my favorite, and took me a while to get used to. I liked the idea of kids being creative, and liked the amount of humor and twists involved in kidnapping a capybara. I also liked the information in the back of the book, which gives ideas for kids group reading the book because of the format. I enjoy the idea, and think many reader would find it to be fun and satisfying to do so. However, I think many of the characters were either underdeveloped or based off of less than flattering stereotypes. I get that it was part of the gag, but with the current state of the country with immigration, and the amount of girls that still think dumb and pretty is the way to go, I was not amused. Although, I was not the target audience either- so maybe I was just not in the right headspace to enjoy the read.

The Capybara Conspiracy is  a book with humor, and wacky escapades. However, it also has some standard stereotypes (some of which are proven untrue about the specific characters) that I just did not enjoy. I think there are some readers that will enjoy it, but between the stereotypes and the format I was not one of them. 

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