Llamas (Let’s Investigate Wildlife), by Aaron Frisch
Do llamas count as wildlife? It is a rather odd and entertaining aspect of books about llamas that there are at least two different approaches that such books have taken. Some books focus on the llama as a domesticated animal that is useful for textiles as a beast of burden, and as a guard of sheep with a particular hostility towards canids. Other books focus on the llamas and their relatives as being animals of the remote and wild Andean altiplano in Bolivia and neighboring countries. This book manages to do both, and does so in a way that is sweet and highly entertaining. I enjoyed reading this book and it is one that I can warmly recommend as being appropriate for younger readers who want to know more about the llama and are okay with learning about it in a somewhat random and mildly disorganized fashion with a lot of sidebars and without the usual chapters and sections that focus on a few specialized themes. That is not to say that this book lacks organization, just that it is on a smaller scale and has a somewhat random but enjoyable feel to it. If you appreciate that sort of approach as much as I do this is well worth reading, especially by and for early readers.
This book is 32 pages long, and like many books it ends with a glossary and index. However, in contrast to many of the books I have read about llamas for early readers, this one is a bit heavier on the text, and is suitable at least up to mid-to-late elementary school readers, featuring a fair amount of text along with photos that help to give further visual context to what is written, but heavier on the text than most books of its kind. The author discusses not only llamas but other members of the llama family like alpacas, guanacos, and vicunas. There is a discussion of the breeding of such animals, including the use of (usually gelded) llamas as guardians for sheep, which is something that llamas can apparently take to very easily. There is a look at llamas as sacrificial animals in the heathen worship practices of the Andean peoples, as well as the use of llamas in hauling goods, dealing with enemies, having a rich coat and fiber, and having bodies that are certainly interesting and unusual as well. There are sidebars that discuss the courage of llamas in being able to chase of moose, for example, and other bits of information that the reader will likely enjoy knowing, that make this book a particularly enjoyable one.