Maureen O’ Beirne tells the tale of a group of slugs and their friends enjoying a pleasant holiday in the children’s book Holiday in Slugland.
Driver Dragon-fly and Glow-worm Guard man the Slugland train as slug families embark on an annual two-day holiday. Their final destination is the Woodlands Hotel, where Ladybird, Sylvester Snail, and a number of slug families are among the guests. At the Woodlands Hotel, the characters enjoy activities, games, and wonderful meals.
The characters are likeable enough, but O’Beirne’s writing is slow and repetitive, with long descriptions repeated verbatim, and a tendency to spell out every last detail of motions and events that could easily be described in fewer words. For example: “On the other side of the room is a circular door. Sylvester Snail knocks on the door, and the door is opened from the other side. Sylvester Snail says through the open door, ‘our [sic] guests have just arrived and I want you to meet them.’ A tall figure comes through the door…” This eschewing of word economy may be acceptable in small doses, but when accumulated across the many pages of the book, it makes for tedious reading.
The book offers a few sketches as illustrations (the sketches are in the truest sense of that word, as they are lightly drawn and ragged-looking), but this is a text-heavy book meant to be read to children, not by children. The sheer number of words far outweighs the actual story content of the book, and while this tale of a group of creatures heading on a journey, enjoying a vacation, and returning home is idyllic, there’s not a lot of excitement to be found, nor is there much in the way of conflict or character development.
O’Beirne’s story has some potential, but the end result is a book that fails to maintain interest.