Macca the backpacker by Matt Cosgrove

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Cosgrove’s aim of making kids laugh hits the mark in this very funny new adventure for Macca the alpaca.

Originally published in 2018 (it seems to have been around for much longer) and followed with Alpacas with maracas, Macca’s makeover, Macca’s Christmas, and A stack of Alpacas (those on my shelf). Each is very funny, causing loads of laughter from the audience, inviting spirited involvement in the verse story and illustrations.

Macca’s bright cheery face invites readers to look further. They will notice his backpack and hat, knowing these are the usual accoutrements of backpackers and explorers of all kinds. So what will Macca do as a backpacker, they wonder as they open the first pages. We are introduced to Macca and his constant companions, all eager for him to achieve his dream of being an explorer. They support him in his endeavours, waving him goodbye, but it is when he needs them most that their support bolsters his efforts.

When his spirits are low he listens to Yak’s soundtrack for inspiration, when his path is steep and muddy he recalls the llama’s words, 'No drama!', when his energy is low, he munches on Rhonda’s healthy snack. At each turn he is able to recall the words and encouragement of his friends, until he finally climbs that mountain, taking a pile of selfies, and sitting down to draw what he sees. But all he sees are his friends, so he retraces his steps and he reaches home where they are all waiting for him, welcoming him back.

This is a deceptively simple and funny look at friendship and what it means: being there when things are less than agreeable, supporting each other through good times and bad. Above all, Macca’s strength and perseverance shines through, encouraging all readers to emulate his behaviour.

Themes: Perseverance, Friendship, Effort, Strength, Exploration, Backpackers.

Fran Knight