cover image A Llama in the Family

A Llama in the Family

Johanna Hurwitz. HarperCollins, $16.99 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13388-7

When Adam's mother promises a surprise, he is sure it will be the mountain bike he's been pining for. The arrival of a llama-with the news that Mrs. Fine will start a trekking business from their Vermont home-comes as a bit of a blow. Adam's disappointment is short-lived, however, for Ethan Allen proves an interesting and devoted, if occasionally troublesome, member of the family. Ethan Allen quickly becomes so valued, in fact, that Adam later forgoes his chance to buy a bike in order to acquire a companion llama for his pet. Hurwitz (Make Room for Elisa; Class President) employs a lower-key humor here than in many of her previous books. Combining a fond portrayal of family life, a bucolic rural setting and a finely drawn picture of the unique bond between people and their pets, this is an amusing and moving read. The depiction of the empathy Adam gradually develops for his llama is especially well rendered: convincing and affecting yet never sentimental, it gives the story substance and heart. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 7-up. (Sept.)