Macca, an uber-cuddly alpaca, lives a carefree life until he crosses paths with a llama bully.
The llama, not-so-subtly named Harmer, is downright awful. He kicks, yells, taunts, and steals in a single page of illustration. An allegorical story ensues in which Macca and Harmer face off in what turns out to be a battle of wits. With each challenge presented, Macca bests Harmer not through brute strength but through the clever use of a tool. At the final challenge, racing up a mountain, Macca’s lithe physicality proves an asset, as his nimble body easily navigates the rocks. There is much in this book that readers will surely enjoy. The illustrations are emotive and humorous. The rhyming text is enjoyable to read aloud. It is an anti-bullying tale with a satisfying comeuppance. The presentation of Macca as totally good and Harmer as totally bad, however, feels like a missed opportunity, as the lack of nuance renders the narrative patently pedantic. There is also a cringeworthy use of the term “karma” that appears when the llama bully plummets down the mountain. The inaccurate application of a spiritually significant term to imply that bad actors get what is coming to them simply because it rhymes conveniently with “llama” is dismissive and borderline offensive to adherents of Hinduism and Buddhism.
This moralizing modern fable favoring brains over brawn missteps. (Picture book. 4-8)