WoooHooo! Today is RELEASE DAY for my friend Mike Allegra’s latest children’s book, Sleepy, Happy, Capy Cuddles! Just like Mike, I’m a huge fan of these adorable, cuddly animals, and my pre-ordered copy should be on the way to my mailbox TODAY. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my 4-year old granddaughter, and I suspect my 8-year old grandson will enjoy it, too. (I know I will!) For those of you who want to learn more, here’s Mike to share his feelings about rodents in general, and capybaras in particular. Enjoy! Now take it away, Mike!
(Mike, Taking It Away!)
I don’t know if you know this, but I love rodents. I love them a lot.
Ever since I was in short pants, I cared for and loved many little critters: gerbils, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Even now, I keep rodents (a pair of loving, if clueless, gerbils named Dusty and Oreo). Also, if I catch mice in my house during the hostile winter months, I’ll get one of my unused cages and set up a rodent resort, keeping the little guys well fed, happy, and comfortable until I can release them in the spring.
So, yes, I am very pro-rodent. In fact, you may call me prodent.
When I started writing picture books, it was only natural that rodents would play prominent roles in my stories. Everybody’s Favorite Book, for example, featured a guinea pig the size of a mastodon.
Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist starred a pair of mischievous mice. (Scampers, who was female, was lauded for promoting women in STEM, which was pretty cool.)
And the hero of my new book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles, is a capybara.
If you don’t know what a capybara is, I’ll be happy to enlighten you. Capybaras are the world’s largest rodent, with adults sometimes weighing in at over 100 pounds. (Imagine a guinea pig the size of a golden retriever. Capybaras are sometimes nicknamed “Guinea Bigs.”) Native to South America, they are semi-aquatic, highly intelligent herd animals with calm—almost Zen-like—personalities.
Capys at Gatorland Wildlife Park & Preserve
Capybaras also have a propensity for interspecies snorgling. Seriously, capybaras are happy to hang out with most any animal. Just a casual search of the internet provides all the evidence you could ever want: there are hundreds of photos of capys cuddling with birds, turtles, lizards, cats, dogs, rats, guinea pigs, goats, and pretty much everything else. There’s even a photo of a capy sidled up next to a caiman!
And here it is!
Cuddling might be an unusual habit, but it’s a nice one, too. The more I learned about capybaras, the more I figured that we could all learn from their mellow, inclusive ways.
Despite the fact that capys cuddle a lot, they rarely impose themselves on others; that is to say, they don’t get in your space demanding cuddles the way some animals might. Instead, they let the cuddlers come to them—and those cuddlers arrive in droves. (Another nickname for the capybara is “Nature’s Chair.”)
I don’t know how capybaras attract these cuddlers. Perhaps they give off pleasant pro-cuddle vibes? Whatever the reason, a capybara’s Cuddle-If-You-Want-To attitude seemed well suited to a fun and funny story with a subtle message about consent. Yes, the capybara in my story gets all the cuddle companions she could ever hope for, but none of those companions are pressured to cuddle. So everybody is happy—especially the capybara. And when a capybara is especially happy, she floofs her fur. Isn’t that adorable?
Capybaras are the best. I hope to sleepily, happily, cuddle one someday.
Author Mike Allegra
Mike Allegra is the author of 17 books for children including the picture books Scampers Thinks like a Scientist (Dawn, 2019), Everybody’s Favorite Book (Macmillan, 2018), and Sarah Gives Thanks (Albert Whitman and Company, 2012). He also wrote the chapter book series Kimmie Tuttle (Abdo Books, 2021) and Prince Not-So Charming (Macmillan, 2018-19; pen name: Roy L. Hinuss). Scampers was the winner of Learning Magazine’s 2020 Teacher’s Choice Award and was selected for inclusion in the Literati Kids subscription box. His story, “Harold’s Hat,” was the winner of the 2014 Highlights fiction contest and was published in the July 2015 issue.
His new picture book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles (Page Street Kids) is now available for purchase HERE.
A Few More of Mike’s Books to be Found on His Author Page