Llamas And The Andes: A Nonfiction Companion To Magic Tree House #34: Late Lunch With Llamas, by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce
Admittedly, this is by no means a bad book. But more than is the case with most books, this book is a companion book that seems really random and scattered apart from its companion book. Now, I do not know much about the Magic Tree House series, but any book that deals with llamas and has dad joke puns is going to at least be a somewhat amusing book on some kind of level. And this is an amusing and informative book. The fact that it is a basic book is easy enough to tolerate since it is clearly meant for younger readers–and at a bit more than 100 pages this is far more ambitious of a volume than most books of its kind. It is just that the reader of this book is going to find a lot more than information about llamas, and indeed a lot less about llamas than one would expect, which makes me wonder how much llamas figure into the the Magic Tree House book that this is a companion to, if it has so much contextual information about non-llama things. This is a feature, not a problem, but it is a feature worth reflecting on if you are looking to read about llamas here.
In terms of its contents, this book contains six chapters. The first chapter looks at llamas and the Andes. This ends up being mostly about the Andes, including a fair amount of information about the various habits of the Andes, including cloud jungles. After this comes a chapter about llamas (2), only here it is not only about llamas but about the whole llama family, including the other more obscure members like guanacos and vicunas. This is followed by a chapter about other animals of the Andes (3), which again focuses on odd and quirky animals that children are likely to be interested in but that many adults re not likely to know at all. Even without knowing their role in a story they make for interesting things to read about. This is followed by a chapter on the Incas (4), which gives the reader some context about the notable empire and its ways–including its use of llamas as beasts of burden–and even about the Incas that remain in the area. After that comes a discussion of Manchu Picchu, which is a town made famous because of its state of preservation even if it was not a particularly large or important Inca settlement, about which much information about its artifacts and their history as well as the fact that it was thought to be another site for a while (5). Then the book closes with a look at the old and new (6), as well as a suggestion for further research, a bibliography, and an index.
One of the more interesting aspects of this book is the way that it deals with the subject of antiquities. One of the consistent problems of the world is the way that nations handle antiquities. In the case of the book, it talks about the fact that the author had permission from the Peruvian government to take some antiquities out of the country and show them at Yale, and yet Peru later made it a criminal offense to take antiquities out of the country and asked for the ones that it had permitted to leave back, which was done although it hardly seems necessary to have returned them given the fact that they were taken out with permission by someone who had discovered the city and brought it to the attention of the world to make it a lasting and famous site. In other countries the problem is even more hypocritical, as in Turkey, which has museums devoted to the antiquities it has pilfered from other countries like Israel and Iraq, even as it makes it a criminal offense for other nations to pilfer its own antiquities. Who knew that a late lunch with llamas could be so complicated, after all.