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Llama Llama Holiday Drama (2010): Christmas Comes but Once a Year

Anna Dewdney, Llama Llama Holiday Drama (Viking, 2010)

The titular llama with an armful of Christmas presents adorns the book cover.

“No, David, you cannot unwrap one early.”
photo credit: Costco

I just finished writing a review of a book far down in a series that doesn’t hold a candle to the original (Sheep Take a Hike), and here I find I’ve dialed up exactly the same kind of book for the next review I’m writing. Well, at least that will make it easy. I apologize for reusing the same framework, but I might as well be writing about the same book save that I don’t hold Llama Llama Red Pajama, Dewdney’s first book about her impetuous four-legged toddler, in as high a regard as I do Sheep in a Jeep, and thus Llama Llama Holiday Drama doesn’t have quite as far to fall. The first book is very strongly presented, with a solid internal logic to the construction of the language and a universal fear being addressed; baby llama fears his mother may be gone for good (when in fact she’s just doing dishes in the kitchen); separation anxiety is very common in toddlers. And Dewdney’s book handles it well, if with too facile a solution. Llama Llama Holiday Drama, on the other hand, feels like an attempt at a Christmas cash grab, kind of like a black metal label releasing an album of holiday standards. That would not necessarily be a bad thing if Dewdney had come up with a similarly common—and similarly serious—condition to approach here, but instead, baby llama is just his usual impatient self until his mother sits him down for another overly-facile talking-to, this one with a moral so awkwardly-worded that you may find yourself reading over it a few times to see exactly how all those words go together, because it seems like, perhaps, a few of them are missing. (You are not incorrect, though technically the passage is put together right; it’s just not quite standard English as spoken in America in the 2000s.) Another one you will want to try from the library before adding to the permanent collection, and unlike some holiday-specific books, you probably won’t regret packing this one away until next Thanksgiving when the time comes. **

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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