Alpacas of the Upper Peninsula!
Reviewed by Victor R. Volkman
Get ready for a great day out with A Field Trip to the Alpaca Farm (Stinky Sneakers Media, 2018), written and illustrated by Kathy Kuczek. This “field trip” is a large-format, hardcover, professionally produced children’s book with edge-to-edge full-color illustrations, many in glorious two-page spreads. The story follows Miss Sutter and her unspecified grade class on the titular trip. The exploration of the farm is punctuated by the rambunctious but goofy Wyatt, whose questions and antics motivate the story itself. A Field Trip to the Alpaca Farm is a great example of a children’s book that is equal parts fun and educational without ever becoming pedantic. The farm’s tour guide, Mrs. Owen, provides most of the factoids, such as why and how shearing takes place and a wonderful two-page spread showing the entire yarn-making process, from washing and carding to roving and finally spinning, as well as knitting the final products. In this day when everything comes from “the store,” this sort of holistic experience is normally only available to kids at a visit to a working farm, such as Rainbow’s End Alpacas in Norway, Michigan. I was surprised to learn that Kuczek grew up in the town Norway and knew the farm well from her youth. She targeted the book for Pre-K to 3rd graders since most of the Rainbows End tour groups are 2nd or 3rd grade classes. The field trip book works equally well as a readaloud or an early reader.