HARLEY

Star Livingstone, Author HARLEYStar Livingstone

The eponymous star of this affecting reader is a pack llama-in-training who is destined for a different calling. While his teacher attempts to guide the animal, "He shoves. He kicks. He spits!" writes Livingstone, making her debut. But a shepherd desperate to find a solution to the coyotes that prey on her sheep sees something in Harley and takes him home to protect her herd. What follows is a lyrical and wryly observed portrait of an animal hero. Through Livingstone's rhythmic, stripped-down prose, and Bang's (The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher) full-bleed spreads and vignettes—which combine a painterly beauty with the immediacy of a sketchpad rendering—the book becomes a meditation on the sublime rewards of being an acute observer. Livingstone and Bang play up nuances that will spark connections between the protagonist and readers, but they never stoop to easy anthropomorphizing. They convey Harley's fierce love of the sheep through his actions. Against marauding coyotes he becomes a furry, flailing fury; he throws a tantrum when two of the sheep are sold; and when it is too hot, he sprawls on the ground in a teeth-baring stupor: "He lets the sheep wander off./ He does not go after them." In short, this llama is one fascinating fellow. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/26/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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