Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Llama Llama Author Anna Dewdney Dies at 50

We all know her books and we know her rhymes, sadly we must say goodbye to Llama Llama Red Pajama author Anna Dewdney. I like many mothers and children are heart broken with this sad news.

Dewdney lost her 15-month battle to brain cancer on September 3rd. Her final request was that in lieu of a funeral, she asked fans to celebrate her life by reading a book to a child. And that is just what I did tonight.

"Sit down, put a child on your lap, and read a story," she wrote. "Have fun. Read in character and use funny voices... Laugh and cry. Be human, loving, and strong, and that will allow the children in your care to be human, loving, and strong. Perhaps, the next time those children feel like hitting or pinching someone, they'll hold off and ask for a hug from you instead." 

Before she captured our hearts she was capturing the hearts of her students. She was a daycare provider and teacher before becoming a full-time author. She knew what the kids loved. "By reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human," wrote Dewdney in a 2013 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal about the importance of reading. "When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else's eyes."  

She was also a dreamer. Success didn't come quickly. Her manuscript for “Llama Llama Red Pajama” languished for years, she said, before Viking, an imprint of the Penguin publishing house, picked it up around her 40th birthday. And how did the phrase Llama llama come about? “Whenever we passed a field that had llamas, I didn’t know what llamas ‘said,’ so I said, ‘llama llama,’ ” she told the Brattleboro Reformer of Vermont, “That’s how it started. Now I know that llamas don’t ‘say’ anything, actually. Unless they are in my books.”

We will continue to see Dewdney's work. A Llama Llama series will soon be coming to Netflix. The new animated will be based on Dewdney's books and Jennifer Gardner will voice the Mama Llama character. It is set to premiere in 2017. 

"The entire Penguin Young Readers family is heartbroken," said Jen Loja, president of Penguin Young Readers, in a press release. "And as we grieve, we also celebrate Anna's life, in dedicating ourselves to carrying forward her mission of putting books into as many little hands as possible. We will miss her so, but consider ourselves so lucky to be her publishing family and her partner in her legacy." 

Dewdney is survived by her partner, Reed Duncan, two grown daughters and by millions of fans that will carry on her love for reading.

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