Dear Aunt Debbie,
What awesome art books! I'm taking notes on subjects to come back to after I'm done with portfolio grading. In the meantime, our next guest blogger is my friend and colleague Kim. Over lunch a few weeks ago, she started talking about her son's latest book love:
My nearly two-year old son, Oliver, is obsessed with Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series. So much so that his Llama Llama doll, given to him by my mother, has become a regular bed-fellow, rounding out his trifecta of Curious George and the glowing Fisher Price sea horse (which I affectionately call his glow worm, fondly remembering my own childhood doll).
We discovered the Llama Llama series when my mother, who, full-disclosure, works for the publishing house which puts out the books, gave Oliver a copy of Llama Llama Red Pajama. He took to it right away, riveted by the tale of a young llama, donning red pajamas, tucked into bed and in desperate need of a glass of water. The old, “mommy I want water” trick! Mama Llama, clearly relieved that Llama Llama’s bedtime has finally arrived and she has time to take care of a few chores, is downstairs finishing up the dinner dishes while chatting on the phone. Meanwhile, upstairs in bed, Llama Llama’s anxiety increases as he becomes more and more impatient for mama to bring him his water, finally culminating in a melt-down of epic proportions. Mama Llama’s frenzied arrival after hearing her son’s panicked screams is expressed in a collage of illustrations which speak for themselves. Here is where it gets really good; when she discovers that he is perfectly safe and unharmed in bed, rather than coddle little Llama Llama, Mama Llama lets him have it. She sternly admonishes him: “Baby Llama what a tizzy! Sometimes Mama’s very busy. Please stop all this llama drama and be patient for your mama.” Mama Llama is one tough cookie, but she quickly follows this up with a hug and kiss and the reassurance that “Mama Llama’s always near, even if she’s not right here.”
The other books in the series include Llama Llama Misses Mama, which focuses on the first day of school, Llama Llama Home with Mama, which describes a sick day where Mama also comes down with the flu, Llama Llama Mad at Mama, which brilliantly describes a long day of shopping, and Llama Llama Holiday Drama, which highlights the chaos of the holiday season. All of the books in this series follow a similar pattern. Llama Llama learns lessons in patience, independence, and most importantly, unconditional love from his no-nonsense mama. There’s plenty of kissing and cuddling, but there’s also plenty of firm discipline. Mama Llama seems to be holding down the fort alone; there is no evidence of a papa llama and Llama Llama appears to be an only child.
Perhaps it is because I can appreciate Mama’s parenting style— it certainly reminds me of my own— that I enjoy the series as much as Oliver. Additionally, the rhyming, which permeates the books, makes for fun reading, as do charming phrases such as “llama drama” which are often repeated. I love that the books teach Oliver empathy. In one notable scene from Llama Llama Misses Mama, little Llama cries at the lunch table on his first day of school. My son is always touched by Llama’s tears, gasping when we get to the page and attempting to offer little Llama his own pacifier. These books are in heavy rotation at our house and are certainly worth a look.
Definitely something we'll be checking out with Isabel.