Alex and the Alpacas Save the World, by Kathryn Lefroy, follows Alex who is visiting her grandfather’s farm in Tasmania for the summer. Lefroy quickly throws her heroine into shenanigans when Alex realises she can understand the alpacas. The madness does not end here for poor Alex. Instead, like many heroines before her, Alex’s destiny as a saviour is thrust upon her and she is tasked to defeat a sinister-being who is a threat to the entire universe.
Alex and the Alpacas Save the World is a fantastic stepping-stone for kids transitioning into large books; larger not only in size but in complexity of plot and development of characters. As the novel progresses, Lefroy looks beyond the divisive line of good and evil to reveal the grey area where many characters lurk. Lefroy tackled this complex issue subtly throughout the book by first introducing the characters as either good or evil but then allows her reader to discover that these characters are not either one or the other by the narrative’s conclusion.
I must confess, I still have whiplash from the ending, and it is definitely not one I have seen in many children’s books. It is an ending that invokes a sense of longing for a definitive closure for a character (who this character is, I will not spoil!)
I loved fantasy books as a child and I wish I was a child when I read Lefroy’s book for the first time; mainly because a large number of fantasy books that I read were from Britain or America and so a lot of culture or scenery references were lost on me. In contrast, Alex and the Alpacas Save the World is not steeped in Australian colloquialisms but rather celebrates the world building aspects of fantasy (but with perhaps a little bit of Australian cheek).
A fantastic book for children looking to read a story with an intense plot and complex characters, but also a great book for adults and parents alike who can read ahead once the kids are fast asleep!