Hello, friends! Our book today is Alpaca Pati’s Fancy Fleece, written by Tracey Kyle and illustrated by Yoss Sanchez.
High in the Peruvian Andes, a young alpaca named Pati gets gussied up for her first day of school. Once there, her friends coo over her soft wool and the pretty adornments she’s decorated it with. Proud of herself, Pati spends more time each morning getting ready, primping and preening and taking pride in her lovely wool. That is, until the day that a classmate informs her that, in spring, the farmers will sheer their coats off. After confirming this with her mother, Pati is heartbroken; if they take away her wool, what will make her special? She runs off in tears, finding her way to the nearby pueblo, where she finds something surprising: all manner of wares and clothing items made from alpaca wool. Pati begins to understand – but will she have the courage to face the loss of her own wool?
This story has some really nice qualities: the inclusion of Spanish-language terms (as well as a glossary with translations in the back), a sweet protagonist with a good heart, and a nice lesson about community and inner beauty. However, there are some ares where it fumbles. When Pati takes joy in her appearance, she isn’t rude or conceited about it; she‘s simply a young girl who is proud of the way she looks. So when her classmate informs her that, sans hair, she will be ugly (“feas”), this seems harsh, especially as this notion is never contradicted later in the text. It’s only implied that the sacrifice of her physical beauty helps the community as a whole and, well, that’s somewhat problematic. Any child, and especially girls, should not be expected to dim their shine or allow someone else to alter their appearance for the benefit of others, and while this is likely not the intended message, it is an unfortunate subtext. The illustrations are lovely and the characters adorable, the length is fine, and JJ enjoyed the alpacas. This is a mostly sweet story with good intentions, even with its stumbles. Definitely have a discussion about bodily autonomy with any young readers, but otherwise, this one is Baby Bookworm approved.
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)