cover image The Alpactory: Ready, Pack, Go!

The Alpactory: Ready, Pack, Go!

Ruth Chan. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-290951-0

Ralph, a snake, is going on a sleepover. Marley, a penguin, is preparing for the first day of school. And Cora, a small rodent with buck teeth, has a big camping trip in store. But with new adventures comes plenty of anxiety, too: Ralph copes by covering himself in underwear from head to toe, Harley hoards pencils, and Cora lies prone on her sleeping bag. Will they ever feel ready? The Alpactory promises to assuage new-experience anxieties with a crack alpaca team that stuffs suitcases, backpacks, and duffels with items that anticipate every possibility, from homesickness-fighting mementos to clothes for each weather pattern and activity. The punny premise is lightly proffered, acknowledging the stressfulness of the unfamiliar while gently assuring readers that by being “brave and kind and funny,” they’re well equipped for the unknown. Chan (The Great Indoors), as skillful a wielder of adorableness as ever, employs digitally finished acrylic, gouache, and charcoal drawings that enable readers to join Ralph, Marley, and Cora on a tour of the titular workplace. It’s a busy setting filled with twisty tubes of colorful potions, assembly lines, shelves stocked to the ceiling with supplies, and fanciful machines that simulate style-cramping weather conditions while hitting a sweet spot that’s goofy, endearing, and good-hearted. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Apr.) [/em]