by Amy McCarthy
Parenthood.com: How did you develop the concept for the Llama Llama series?
Anna Dewdney: Actually, Llama Llama wasn't going to be a series at all! I just wrote a book about a small person who was having trouble going to bed (Llama Llama Red Pajama). It wasn't until I was in a very large box store that the next book, Llama Llama Mad At Mama, wrote itself. And then the little guy was such a part of my life that he had lots of stories that could be told. He's really my third child, at this point!
Parenthood.com: What values do you hope children take away from your books?
Anna Dewdney: I very much hope that children will feel comforted by my books. In order for a person to grow into a confident, capable, and nurturing member of the larger society, he or she must feel confident, capable, and nurtured as a child. A child needs to feel loved and safe, as that is the foundation that allows the child to become a strong adult. I hope that my books encourage empathy, open hearts, and a willingness to live in this world with others.
Parenthood.com: How can parents use your books to teach their children?
Anna Dewdney: The Llama Llama Books are certainly full of teachable moments! I think there are plenty of opportunities to check in with your child while you are reading. Here are just a few of the questions you can ask while reading:
Why did Llama Llama do that?
How do you think Llama Llama feels?
Have you ever felt that way?
Do you think it is OK to have a temper tantrum in a grocery store?
Did you want to hide behind a bookcase on the first day of school?
And isn't it true that someone will pick you up, every day, after daycare?
I hope that the books make kids giggle and that they are fun to read for adults, but they are also chock full of opportunities to talk about feelings and to process all the issues that little kids deal with.
Parenthood.com: Llama Llama Home With Mama is the latest book in this series, can you tell us a little bit about the story?
Llama Llama Home with Mama is another "true" story... it is about what was (for me and my children) a common experience: the little one stays home, feels bored, starts to feel better, and then Mama gets sick at the end of the day. What an opportunity for Llama Llama! He can take care of his Mama! The roles get reversed, and the two end up comforting each other.
Parenthood.com: Did the stories evolve from stories you told your children? Did they grow up with Llama Llama stories?
I never told these stories to my children, directly... but I certainly tried (and continue to try!) to give my children the best possible base from which to grow. By the time the Llama Llama books began to get published, my children were already teenagers! But, of course, teenagers need to hear similar messages:
Love yourself and respect other people.
It will be OK.
People love you.
I think we all benefit from hearing those messages from time to time!
Published September 2011