Buttersby had everything going for her. She was a champion with credentials, which automatically made her the leader of the barn. Since Buttersby is an alpaca, being the leader of the barn was important. Of course, being a champion with extraordinary fibers also made her prideful. She was beyond proud of her championship status and looked down on others, often (well, always) treating them very badly.
Everything changes when she is temporarily moved to a new barn on the farm, surrounded by other types of animals who don’t seem impressed by her credentials and who keep confusing her with llamas, who as any good alpaca knows, are only useful as guards for the alpacas. And then, to make it worse, she is alpaca-napped and taken to Peru. Her fellow kidnap victim, Meander, is also an alpaca, but of, Buttersby thinks, an inferior species. She is certain he is stupid and beneath her attention. Furthermore, she’s baffled by his refusal to get hysterical over things he can’t control.
This strange new ranch in Peru seems to have no humans. The animals make the rules and run things as they choose, and the method they choose is a caste system. Buttersby quickly goes from being queen of the barn to being the lowest of lows, forced to clean up after others and follow orders. She is entirely miserable and disliked, while her companion, Meander, quickly earns the friendship of those around him. Buttersby can’t understand why an inferior creature is so much more popular than she. In spite of Buttersby’s continued rudeness to Meander, he takes it upon himself to protect her and help her adjust.
One day, Buttersby learns that she has been chosen for a frightening but critical responsibility. Will her pride and her judgmental ways stand between her and success, or will she rise above the challenges, sacrifice her pride, and become the person she was called to be?
This is a charming book that will appeal to upper elementary school aged children. The book was written to teach about alpacas, a surprisingly cute animal (who knew?), but the book reads like a true fantasy novel, not like a textbook. There are snippets of alpaca facts before each chapter, and other bits of information are tucked naturally into the story. Buttersby is a realistically portrayed champion and her personal growth is believably drawn out. Meander risks stealing the show with his laid back personality and determined kindness to someone who is unkind to him. A delightful touch is added by a prophetic mouse who pops up with mysterious messages, but who avoids stereotype by following them up with humorous complaints.
There are Biblical references sprinkled throughout the story, which has its foundation in events that were caused by the tower of Babel. The book isn’t a religious story in the traditional sense, but homeschooling parents can draw upon these references to tie the reading of the book to their scripture readings. The values of pride and judgment allow parents to initiate important discussions with their children about Biblical principles. Families who don’t use the Bible can read this with their children as well, since it doesn’t refer directly to the Bible as a book, only to specific events, and it doesn’t preach.
The book is a great enrichment activity for unit studies on animals, Peru, or the Old Testament. The cuddly alpacas in the wonderful pictures may send your children begging for a pet alpaca, however. But rest assured, they will never again confuse an alpaca with a llama. Llamas spit; alpacas hum (and Buttersby hums in perfect pitch.)
On the book’s website, you’ll also find games, alpaca facts, and chapter notes from the author, which your teens who write fiction will find enlightening.
Read the original review here on Treasured Time’s website