Llama (Animal Favorites), by Caroline Arnold, with photographs by Richard Hewett
As I have mentioned before, there are a lot of books about llamas and differentiating oneself from other books can be a worthy challenge. This particular book is a photo essay, one that is relatively short when it comes to the text but is long enough to be a separate book because of the large number of photos that are in the book. The book is, as it should be, aimed at young readers. But instead of talking about a large number of llamas, this book separates itself from the herd by focusing on a single llama. Admittedly, this book still tries to do what other books do in talking about llamas as a whole, but one strength this book has is a focus on one particular llama that the (presumably young) reader of this book can cheer on. The is a wise strategy for several reasons, for one because llamas have personality and that is one of their chief appeals to people, for another because the llama chosen to focus on starts out young and then grows up, providing something for the reader to compare oneself with. All of this makes for a very excellent book, with one of the few faults of the book being the rather drab nature of the photography, something that would be far more attractive in a contemporary book with excellent filters.
This book is about 48 pages, making it among the standard lengths for books aimed at children. Published in 1988, the book is a bit dated, but even at this relatively early date there were already plenty of llama farms in the United States, including one where a llama named Gypsy, the cria heroine of this particular volume, was born. Gypsy is a gorgeous white llama, and a fitting example of the people-trained llamas of North America. When the book isn’t talking about the adorable Gypsy and her growing up experiences, the author and photographer look at other llamas in their homeland of South America, providing the reader with context on how llamas live in their home. The end result is a book that features a lot of plain photographs and compelling and interesting information that discusses what was thought and known about llamas more than thirty years ago. And if this book would look a lot better now, it certainly would be hard to find a more appealing little llama for young readers to appreciate and to ponder as being a being not so unlike themselves.