From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2-Harley just can't seem to learn to be a pack animal, or to get along with the other llamas. When a shepherd comes to the ranch looking for a guard llama, she decides she likes the look of Harley, so she takes him back to her field. He learns to guard the sheep and comes to take his job very seriously. He even manages to befriend the cantankerous ram. In short, declarative sentences appropriate for beginning readers, Livingstone tells a simple tale culled from everyday realities, developing the animals' personalities without resorting to anthropomorphism. Bang's charming illustrations complement this effort, conveying Harley's obvious pride in watching over his flock and his rage as he warns away prowling coyotes. Excellent use is made of page layout, as when the ram, preparing a playful charge in the upper left-hand corner of a two-page spread, faces Harley in the lower right-hand corner. Children will be intrigued to hear that all of the characters and events in this book were based on real life, as the author observed it. A charming story of a creature who finds his place.Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, Eldersburg, MD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.