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Posts Tagged ‘Llama Lhama

It’s Saturday and Llama Llama wants to play. Except Mama Llama has to shop. And she can’t leave her little one behind. Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney is one of many titles in a series of popular picture books featuring the most unusual character of a llama. Dewdney’s work is known for how it sympathetically address the everyday issues of young children and its incredible use of facial expressions in the illustrations. With Llama Llama Mad at Momma, Dewdney once again delivers.

What I like most about Llama Llama Mad at Mama is how accurately Dewdney captures a shopping trip from the perspective of both parent and child. Neither of them wants to shop, but it’s a task that must be done, and so they will reward themselves with a treat when done. Despite this promise, the noise and the smells and the long lines at the store start to wear on Llama Llama and he begins to whine. When Llama Llama is subjected to trying on shirts and pants and shoes, his patience grows even more thin. But Mama Llama isn’t done. She still has to buy them food. Mama Llamas tries to keep him engaged, asking what he would like for lunch. But Llama Llama has had enough. A tantrum ensues! That feels about right for a shopping trip, doesn’t it?

Llama Lhama’s tantrum has been a topic of discussion by some reviewers. Is Dewdney condoning tantrums? Or is she creatively showing how one family handled them? I’ve certainly seen them resolved in multiple different ways in real life. Some parents will remove their child from the store. Others will stick out the trip, but warn their child of consequences that will happen at home. There are also ones who will bribe their child to behave by hastily buying them whatever treat will keep them quiet. Mama Llama’s initial reaction is to exclaim, “Llama Llama that’s enough!” Her next reaction is a more patient one. She understands shopping is boring, but they have each other and so how about they try to make the task fun? I should note that part of their teamwork effort involves cleaning up the mess that Llama Llama made. After that, they proceed more calmly with their shopping trip.

Dewdey is known not just for the quality of her stories but also of her artwork. As I noted in my introduction, she makes incredible use of facial illustrations. When Llama Llama is sleepy, his eyes droop and his mouth almost disappears. When he is bored, his eyes roll and his tongue hangs out. There is also a priceless moment when his brows crease and his eyes narrow, because the clothes itch which Mama makes try. Aside from facial expressions, the full-page oil-painted spreads are bold and colorful. Each illustration is detailed, but not so much that the story is overshadowed with too much art.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama is an excellent read aloud which might get families talking about how to handle those mandatory shopping trips. Young readers will connect to Llama Llama’s frustration. Adults will also appreciate the subtle lesson Dewdney teaches about compassion and teamwork.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?


I live in a big old house in Vermont with three scruffy dogs, and I spend a lot of time on the road, mostly visiting my two daughters, as well as schools and libraries. I talk at conferences, and I go visit my publisher in New York. But mostly, I spend my time at home, sketching, writing, and painting. I spend at least an hour a day in the woods, running and walking with my dogs, and I love to putter around outside, planning gardens and cutting down trees. I spend most of my time in the studio, making pictures and writing stories. It’s a pretty good life, and it took me a long time to get here.

Anna Dewdney, About Me

Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama books have all been New York Times bestsellers. In 2011, Llama Llama Red Pajama was chosen as Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book, setting the world’s record for most readings of a particular book on one day, an event which was recorded on the Today show. Dewdney’s work has been adapted into stage plays, dance performances, and musicals, most notably by Dolly Parton at Dollywood. Many other not-for-profit organizations use Dewdney’s books for literacy campaigns and programs too, including the Library of Congress, which featured her work in its 2012 National Book Festival. Dewdney’s work is highly acclaimed by critics and is often recommended on booklists by national reviewers. In 2013, Dewdney spoke at the 2013 Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival. I’ll review her book Llama Llama Mad at Momma tomorrow. Save the date: November 14!


AnnaDewdneyBorn in New Jersey, Anna Dewdney came from a family of five. Dewdney told Scholastic that she had a traditional upbringing; her dad was the bread-winner and her mom stayed home with the three kids.

Her dad was a doctor. He liked to collect books and to read a lot to the family a lot. When Dewdney and her sisters were little, he used to read from A. A. Milne’s POOH books. Dewdney says whenever she reads these books, whether to herself or to her own children or to myself, she hear his voice. Her mom was the caregiver and primary emotional support. She was also a writer.

Dewdney’s older sister, Tanya, went away to school when Dewdney was only seven years old and so the girls didn’t spend much time together when young was little. Now her sister teaches at the Stanford University and writes serious books. Her latest book is When God Talks Back. As for her younger sister, Alice, the two girls liked dressing up and playing pretend.

After high school, Dewdney earned a bachelor’s degree in Art from Wesleyan University. Before her work became well known, Dewdney supported herself with lots of paying jobs: waitress, retail, school bus driver, furniture salesperson, and daycare provider. She also served as a remedial-language, art, and history teacher at a junior boarding school for dyslexic boys for a stint. Her favorite job was delivering the mail. Through it all, Dewdney drew pictures and wrote.


In 2005, Dewdney gained critical acclaim for Llama Llama Red Pajama, the first book which she both wrote and illustrated. Why a llama? Dewdney chose the unusual character of a llama because of the funny face and the sound of the word. She explained to Scholastic, “When my children were little, we would drive around our town in Vermont and when we saw cows, I would moo. When we saw chickens, I would cluck. When we saw sheep, I’d baaaaah… and so on. But when we saw llamas, I had no idea what llamas “said”, so I would say, “Oh, look at the llama! Llama llama llama llama!” Then one day, that became, “Llama Llama red pajama… reads a story with his mama….”

Anna Dewdney draws Photo from peanut butter on the keyboard

Anna Dewdney draws
Photo from Peanut Butter on the Keyboard

According to New Jersey, Dewdney actually wrote her first Llama Llama book when her children were very small, but then put it away because she was writing all kinds of books at the time. When her children were teenagers, Dewdney finally sent out her Llama Llama book and had a crazy experience. After trying to get published for 20 years, she received two offers on the same book on the same day!

When asked if she starts with the writing or the drawing, Dewdney said she starts with a feeling. Her books come from some sort of intense emotional place. After that, she does a lot of word play. Then Dewdney starts to sketch. In an interview with Creative Mom, Dewdney described the process of creating books as being a bit like creating a collage, one thing layering on top of another. Only after she has write/sketch/write/sketch for a long time does she start to put together a book dummy or pretend book.

For inspiration, Dewdney draws on her own memories, such as one she recalled for Scholastic. The very first time Dewdney went to school, she was very nervous. “I have distinct memories of the smell of graham crackers, the feel of my blanket that I brought on that first day, and the dust from the chalkboard. I remember my cubby, and the place where everyone sat for stories…. I think we all experience a little “first-day” shock in a new place.”

Dewdney also spends a lot of time watching people. She shares with Scholastic that there’s a lot in this world that makes her laugh. She particularly appreciates the honesty of young people and their willingness to be silly. Of course, she also had her own children for inspiration. Then there are her three goofy dogs. And there are all her young relatives.

When Dewdney started out as an artist, she used to draw in pencil in sketch books. Now she uses a touch screen and transfers her sketches to it. From there, she’ll print out her drawings and trace them onto canvas. The actual oil painting, she still does on canvas. To her, it feels like having the best of both worlds.

In response to a question posed by Creative Mom about how it feels to be an established author, Dewdney shared that in a sense, nothing is different. She still does the same old things she always did; mother her children, run in the woods with my dogs, putter around her garden. In another sense, now she gets paid for her pictures, signs books, and sometimes sees a giant Llama “puppet” walking around. Ultimately though, Dewdney says:

The most important thing to know about me, really, is that I’m a mom.

Anna Dewdney, About Me

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