Friday, October 8, 2010

Destiny's Purpose by Shannon Cassidy-Rouleau




Destiny's Purpose
Shannon Cassidy-Rouleau (author) and Dennis Auth (illustrator)
Big Tent Books / Castlebridge Books; first edition (April 30, 2010)
978-1601310644
32 pages

A young alpaca is outcast from the herd when he shows signs of a rare autoimmune disorder, leaving his owners concerned for his future in Destiny’s Purpose by Shannon Cassidy-Rouleau.

As soon as a new cria (a younger than 1 year old) alpaca arrived at Celtic Sunset Ranch, his new owners, Nora and Peter, felt the young male was special. With wonderful fleece just right for knitting and near perfect conformation (body shape and contour), it was predicted that he would be a top show winner. Nora named the youngster “Destiny.”
As Destiny grew, his beautiful coloring and pleasant personality made him a favorite of farm visitors. Everyone involved with Destiny’s first shearing remarked at the high quality of his fleece. Nora decided to save the fleece stating, “It’s meant for something exceptional!”

One morning, farmer Peter discovered Destiny’s fleece falling out in clumps and that none of the other herd members would go near him. A vet declared Destiny healthy; however, he had an incurable disease called alopecia in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. He wasn’t contagious but he almost certainly would never retain the wonderful fleece for which alpacas are known. What would become of a balding alpaca? Would his friends ever accept his strange new appearance? Farmer Nora felt there was still a special purpose for Destiny at the farm.

It is no wonder why parents and educators are raving about Destiny’s Purpose as the book uniquely combines an interesting look at alpacas with an overcoming adversity message and insightful information about alopecia. There is a free teacher’s guide online and I think the book would blend well with most language/literacy and or animal science programs. The story is presented with wonderful, descriptive detail and clear dialogue throughout. The illustrations are exceptional works of art. I read the book to my children aged five and seven and they both enjoyed it. They showed sadness and compassion for Destiny when he was shunned by the herd and happiness when his purpose is revealed. The glossary was a nice touch to help with understanding “alpaca lingo.” I highly recommend Destiny’s Purpose for at home reading and for classroom study for 5-10 year olds.

Alopecia-caused hair loss can be a traumatic experience for children. Shannon Cassidy-Rouleau donates a portion of her royalties to the National Alopecia Foundation to advance research for a cure and to provide prosthetics for children in need.

By William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews

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