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Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney Children's Book Review

Updated on May 2, 2018
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I've written over 50 articles about children's literature for library, preschool or home settings. I have a BA in English Lit from BYU.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama book cover
Llama Llama Mad at Mama book cover

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Book Review

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney is my 2 1/2 year old son's new favorite story book. This story, with its rhyming text and fanciful illustrations, injects humor and understanding into the dreaded big box shopping experience. Any parent who has been at the receiving end of an in-store melt down needs to get their hands on this story and read it with their child. My son hated shopping before he started to read this book. Although shopping is still well below other favorite activities, like reading a book about shopping, or visiting a new playground, this realistic story will appeal to both parents and children who find shopping at the big box stores to be a tiresome and frustrating adventure.

Author Anna Dewdney uses simple language that most toddlers will understand with a lilting rhyming scheme that is fun to repeat over and over. My son and I have read his dog-eared copy of Llama Llama Mad At Mama so often now that he waits with eager anticipation to recite the familiar phrases in the story.

One of my son's favorite lines in the story is:

Yucky music, great big feet, ladies smelling way too sweet...

Dewdney truly understands a toddler's unique perspective, which is why I think her books are growing so popular. This particular addition to the Llama Llama series appeals to any toddler or preschooler who has ever felt overloaded by the sights, sounds, and smells of a long shopping trip on a very real and personal level. With sympathy and grace, Llama Llama Mad at Mama progresses through the toddler's experience of the familiarity of home to the strange and overwhelming experiences that lead to Llama Llama's full-blown temper tantrum, with food humorously flung across the aisles and Llama Llama wailing.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama is escapist fiction at its finest, providing young readers an opportunity to act out without suffering the consequences. The reader's journey includes the experience of the temper tantrum followed by Llama Llama's mother calmly and collectedly picking up the food and taking Llama home. Llama Mama's calm reaction to the temper tantrum is as reassuring as the actual temper tantrum is fun, ending the story with order and restraint.

I strongly recommend this book as an appealing read for the younger preschool and toddler-aged crowd.

Art and Book Layout

The title character is really cute, with his long neck and hooves. But Llama Llama's fabulous facial expressions make the art in this book well above average. The pictures in this story are detailed, with colors that are somewhat muted compared to children's books like Hilda Must be Dancing by Karma Wilson or Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug.

I am a bit biased, but I have often thought that Llama Llama looks a lot like my own little boy, who is tall and thin, without the hooves though! Llama Llama is as loveable as they come!

Themes

  • Shopping with toddlers
  • Mothers
  • Temper tantrums
  • Feelings-Boredom

© 2009 Carolyn Augustine

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