Of Love and Llamas: Anna Dewdney's
Llama Llama Mad at Mama

Llama Llama Mad at Mama
Children's book review by P.J. Rooks

Ages 4-8

Hey, look who's stuck in the shopping cart -- it's Baby Llama. Baby Llama, don't you just love to shop? Sitting in the cart is fun, no?

NO! Sitting in the cart is not fun. Shopping is not fun. Here, Baby Llama will illustrate for you just how not fun shopping really is.

See these Cheezee Puffs? Fff-wwhizzz -- out they go! Oops, did I mention that they were open? And how about this one -- ever seen a carton of orange juice explode? Check this out! Paper towels, pasta, bread, coffee -- smash, splat -- everything out of the cart!

Ha! Now that's better!

Well, doesn't little Llama have some temper issues? Clearly he is having some problems expressing his discontent, but hey, why try to verbalize or even send a card when you can say it with Cheezee Puffs?

Surely this is not my child behaving this way, right Mama Llama? Maybe there's a terrible conspiracy working against us all. Maybe those happy face stickers that they give out at the door are really chemical patches that infuse children with an overwhelming sense of powerless rage and boredom within, oh, about 15 minutes.

Or is it just that Baby Llama would rather not be at the store on a sunny Saturday morning?

Kids don't really like to shop. Actually, let me re-phrase that -- kids love to shop. Left unchecked, my three-year-old can entertain herself royally in just about any store, but getting her into the cart involves a rather good deal of trickery and distraction and as for keeping her in the cart?...

Well, if they'd just start supplying safety helmets along with the carts and stickers, we'd be in good shape.

It is a bit of a rudeness on the part of parents, though, that we ask our kids to submit to the cart-seat. Here's how I know -- could I strap my husband into one for our next shopping spree and expect him to remain passive and friendly for the duration of the trip? That'll be the day!

What my husband would be quick to tell me, Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Mad at Mama amusingly captures from a kid's-eye view and relates on behalf of all those little ones who likely are not quite so verbose.

"Yucky music,
Great big feet.
Ladies smelling way too sweet.
Look at knees and stand in line,
Llama Llama starts to whine."

...And it escalates from there.

A little bit of unconditional love goes a long way for the Llama family, though, and once the mess is cleaned up, Baby and Mama finish the shopping together then go out for ice cream. In the end, Llama Llama's anger has been replaced by love and the Llamas have learned a new trick for getting through the store peacefully.

Colorful illustrations convey the emotional rollercoaster that defines the Llama's shopping experience and Dewdney's narration in rhythm and rhyme makes for a quick and enchanting read. Quick the first time around, that is. You might want to pencil in the time for several immediate re-readings, though!

For more fun and frustration with the Llamas, also have a look at Llama, Llama Red Pajama -- a llama drama of bedtime trauma that will ring a bell with any family.

Read more of P.J.'s reviews.

Read another review of the Llama Llama books.

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