A sometimes-thoughtful animal-oriented family romp through the Andes with a few sticking points.



In this second children’s book series installment, three siblings travel to Peru with their veterinarian parents, who’ve been hired to locate missing llamas.

Marx’s (Wonder World Kids: The Mystery of the Dancing Horses, 2019) latest book opens with the Cook children—10-year-old Lilly, 8-year-old Fynn, and his twin sister, Celia—complaining about taking plane rides and cross-country bus trips, due to their parents’ job as consulting veterinarians. However, as the family arrives at Machu Picchu, the kids become excited to learn about the archaeological site and the creatures that live nearby. The veterinarians must lure a photogenic herd of llamas back to the popular tourist destination; little do they realize that the problem may be the tourists themselves. There are apparently no Peruvian llama experts who are qualified to take the case, so the Cooks consult with an anthropologist named Mrs. Curador. Her son, Maximo, is an excellent runner who teaches track athlete Fynn about the legacy of Inca chasquis runners and offers insights about Inca engineering as the kids explore the site. Bolded vocabulary words abound, and quick facts about Machu Picchu and its fauna round out the narrative, which finishes with a glossary. It’s unfortunate that the Peruvian characters, including scholars, make no mention of Spanish colonization; the glossary also implies that Inca culture has disappeared, although Quechua is still spoken. The observant Chef Chuchu, who offers essential insight into how area tourism has expanded, introduces Lilly, Fynn, and Celia to the traditional use of cuy, or guinea pigs, as meat animals. This latter shock inspires a thoughtful dialogue about cultural conceptions of animals as pets or meat. However, it’s followed by a guinea pig rescue operation by the Cooks, which undermines the message of tolerance. Animal lovers and young adventurers will appreciate the short chapters, sibling banter, and easy-to-read blocks of text, as well as debut artist Gallo’s black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations. The book’s conclusion will prompt readers to consider the impact of tourism on the environment. That said, its depiction of white Americans helping Peruvians understand their own national animal seems unrealistic, to put it lightly. 

A sometimes-thoughtful animal-oriented family romp through the Andes with a few sticking points.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73234-241-5

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Noreaster Times LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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