If you haven’t noticed yet, Christmas books for kids are the absolute, creative best.
All those hilariously quirky permutations of festive language use that we have known and loved since we ourselves were kids, find their way into these books and with a talented writer and inspired artist working together, give birth to some joyously fun ways to celebrate the season.
Yes, even in July … especially this July where the COVID-19 pandemic continues to suck all the fun out of everything, and then some.
Case in point is the gorgeously delightful Fa-la-la-la-llama by Alex Bisco which correctly recognises where only greeting card manufacturers have done so before that the natural way to finish the iconically memorable, fun phrase from “Deck the Halls’ is not by inserting yet more “la-la-la’s” but by going full South American camelid (yes, that is what they are called and you may think me later for this latest brick in the wall of your animal education).
With a handy sound button to get you in the mood by way of a playing of said tune, Fa-la-la-la-llama excels by playing here and there with the words of the carol, but even more so by way of some festively lush artwork that is a heartwarming delight to look at and enjoy.
Heartwarmingly wonderful though the newly-amended lyrics, the true star of this festive board book is the artwork.
It is everything that is Christmas-y and then some.
The scene where our lyrical llama is ambling along the street in a Christmas jumper, red scarf and hat is reminiscent of the lush Richard Scarry artwork I loved as a kid, which created a sumptuously poetic world in which everything seemed whimsically and gloriously contentedly happy.
Can you honestly look at the scene above, or the one below where Llama and his friends are gathered happily caroling around a luminously colourful Christmas tree and not feel some reality-defying sense that everything is going to be okay.
Yes, even now amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic.
That is the attraction of Christmas in its purest, most nostalgic form – it gives us a vision of a perfect life, a just-so moment in time where all our troubles are behind us, where family and friends surround us, where merry decorations lift the banality of the everyday and we can pretend life is everything we want it to be.
Maybe that is your life, and for that I am glad, but for most of us, life is an uneasy balance of the wondrous and the despairing and so to dive into a book like Fa-la-la-la-llama is an unalloyed joy, not just for the intended audience of small children but for the rest of us who, for the space of this book and a host of other festive reasons, can feel like life is as good as envisaged and will keep being magical even after all the Fa-la-la-la-llama-ing has receded into the lamentable distance.