I have to admit that, before reading this book and researching it further, I didn't know very much about alpacas. I had heard of alpacas, of course, and even recalled a small part in the Disney movie The Emperor's New Groove (remember that part between Kuzco and Pacha where they?re talking about Pacha's nifty homemade poncho?) where a piece of superior clothing is said to be alpaca, but as far as formal alpaca knowledge goes, I was pretty lacking.
A quick click over to the Pax River Alpacas website (the above-referenced website of the author's farm and personal alpaca stock), and I was fathoms deep in cute alpaca photos. And then my jaw hit the floor; those cute little alpacas are some expensive little creatures! A female sells for $20,000? Good grief, is that in dollars?! Obviously, there's a whole lot of alpaca universe that I have been missing. Have you missed it too? I'll fill you in.
$20,000 For a Cute Little Fuzzy Farm Animal? No Way!
Yes way! And here's why. According to Mrs. Rosche, alpaca fleece is highly prized for its silky feel, rich luster, and lightweight warmth. It comes in 22 natural colors - shades of white, cream, tan, camel, brown, black, and gray. It can be blended to create an infinite array of natural colors and can also be dyed. Alpaca fleece is used to create some of the world's finest textiles and is treasured by the fashion industry, as well as by hand spinners and weavers.
Furthermore, there are few alpacas in the United States today, and they are very much in demand, especially those with excellent fleece. The Rosche family began their alpaca business in 2001. They currently own 16 alpacas, which they breed, sell, and show. The two Rosche children are homeschooled, and they enjoy helping with the care and showing of the family's alpacas. The family's alpaca activities and interests helped spark Mrs. Rosche's idea of writing this children's alpaca story.
Illustrated by another homeschooling mother and self-published, this sweet storybook is told through the eyes of Josephine, an alpaca who survives a birth fraught with complications on an alpaca farm. Josephine quickly becomes part of the family, since she must be hand-raised by the children because her mother is unable to produce milk for her. She battles feelings of insecurity as the other, older alpacas on the farm boast about their fleeces' awards and blue ribbons at fairs, while she remains unsure of whether her fleece (and, likewise, her presence on the farm) is worth anything. In the end, Josephine finds that she is priceless and treasured both inside and out.
After the story, Mrs. Rosche has added a two-page discussion of alpacas (such as their history and the use of their fleece) and also a glossary of alpaca terms (did you know that a baby alpaca is called a cria?). I would wholeheartedly recommend that you also visit her website, where you can learn much more about alpacas in general and her alpacas specifically (you can also see excerpts from this book on her website). The story is heartwarming, it's fun to learn all about alpacas, and it's also a wonderful bonus to know that purchasing this book supports the efforts of two homeschooling mothers.