We are HUGE Llama Llama fans in our house. I love reading them as much as Elias loves listening to them being read. When I reached out to Llama Llama author Anna Dewdney, I never thought she would actually respond – but she did! Below is a fun Q&A we did via email. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.
If you don’t have the Llama Llama books in your child’s home library, you need to buy them! They are awesome!
Thanks so much for being willing to do a Q&A for my blog, The Mom Creative. We are such big fans of the Llama Llama books in our home. My almost 3-year-old, Elias, can recite Llama Llama Misses Mama by heart.
What inspired the Llama Llama series? Why a llama?
The reason I chose a llama for my series is simply because I love the sound of the word. I used to drive around Vermont with my children, mooing at the cows and clucking at the chickens, and when I saw llamas, I had no idea what they said, so I would say, “llama llama!”. The basic story, of course, is based on my experience of putting my two children to bed at night, as well as my own fear of being alone as a child.
Elias’s favorite Llama Llama book is Llama Llama Misses Mama. As a working mom, I love it too. What Llama Llama book is your favorite and why?
My favorite Llama Llama book is always the one I’m working on at the time! I am having so much fun with the little board books right now….mostly because they are so simple and rhythmic. The first two will be out in about six months.
Llama Llama Red Pajama will always be special to me, of course, because he was “born” then, in my head, and because the fear of the dark and a parent being gone is so primal and basic for a young child. However, each of the books has special resonance for me as a mother (and a former child)…that’s why I wrote them. I am a working mother, and I dropped my children off at daycare, and then school, so I remember what that was like. I can also remember what it was like on that first day of kindergarten, for myself… The cubbies! The blankets! The graham crackers! It was all so new.
What is your writing process like? Do you start with the words or the illustrations?
That’s hard to say. I think I start with a feeling or emotion, and go from there. I do a lot of word play, and then start sketching. Creating the books is a bit like creating a collage, one thing layering on top of another. I sketch/write/sketch/write for a long time until I’m ready to get official. Then I start putting together a book dummy (pretend book). I am very old fashioned…I still draw with a pencil and paste my text on my sketches with rubber cement. I think I’m the only one left…everyone else is a computer whiz.
Can you share a bit about Llama Llama Home with Mama (releasing in August)?
Llama Llama Home with Mama was really fun to paint because I got to do a lot of bored, sickly faces. It wasn’t hard for me…this past winter in Vermont was VERY long, with lots and lots of snow, so the dogs and I looked pathetically at each other most of the time. The book is based on my experiences with my girls when they would get sick; it was inevitable that if they had to stay home from school, they would get more bored as the day progressed and they felt increasingly better…until, at the end of the day, they were feeling just fine. But then who feels yucky? Mom, of course! And then it’s time for dinner and a game and stories! Sigh. Being a mom can be very challenging…
I read that you have wanted to write children’s books for a long time. Is the Llama Llama success a bit surreal for you?
The whole thing is incredibly bizarre! In a sense, nothing is different…I still do the same old things I always did; I mother my children (now via Skype, a lot of the time), I run in the woods with my dogs, I putter around my garden, talking to myself, and I draw little pictures. Although now I get paid for the picture stuff, and when I go out into the real world to sign books, people get excited and there is often a giant Llama “puppet” walking around. And it’s nice to be able to pay some bills…that’s a big plus! I figure that I can always go back to teaching if the books go bust, and I’m keeping my CDL (commercial driver’s license) in case I need to become a long haul trucker. Actually, I can totally see myself in a big rig with my bulldog!
I am so humbled and grateful that children have responded so well to Llama Llama! That means to me that I am doing what I try so hard to do – to express, in as honest a fashion as possible, the experiences of small children and their parents.