‘Llama Llama’ author 'lloves' kids PDF Print E-mail
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:21
Anna Dewdney, with one of her three dogs. Dewdney is this year’s featured author at BGSU’s Literacy in the Park (Photos provided)
Children and parents who are excited about meeting Anna Dewdney next week should know that the “Llama Llama” author and illustrator is just as enthused about getting to know them.
“That is one of my favorite parts of my job, meeting kids and parents,” said Dewdney, whose most recent book “Llama Llama Time to Share” made the New York Times Best Seller list. “I love to look at kids face to face and talk to them. It’s incredibly joyful to me because I get to meet real little people.”
Dewdney is this year’s featured author at Bowling Green State University’s Literacy in the Park on March 16.
Her two daughters, ages 21 and 18, are off to college. While Dewdney’s three dogs, a boyfriend and a bustling career occupy her time, she said she misses the “little people” for whom she creates her work.
She plans on giving each child who visits her at BGSU a special “gift” for waiting in line to get a book autographed or shake hands.
“If I have enough time, I make a picture in every book of ‘Llama Llama,’” Dewdney said. “It makes it a little bit of an extra-special experience.”
And if a child is nervous about meeting Dewdney or being in such a bustling atmosphere, she understands. The author and illustrator has created a whole character based on anxiety.
“Llama Llama” is around preschool age and overcomes several nerve-racking situations in the book series: wanting mama at bedtime, leaving home for the first day of school and getting sick. Another picture book by Dewdney, “Roly Poly Pangolin,” features a crustacean who — you guessed it — rolls into a ball when upset.
“It can be stressful to be a little person, and children get anxious,” Dewdney said. “Children tend to experience that anxiety more directly. They need help to understand that the world is not such a scary place and they’re not alone.
“And that’s what my books are about,” she said. “People love you and they will help you.”
Anna Dewdney’s latest book is “Llama Llama Time to Share.” Next in the series is “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.” The popular children’s author will be featured at BGSU’s Literacy in the Park on March 16.
“Llama Llama” is about to discover possibly his most stressful situation yet. “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat” is due out this fall. Bullying had been on Dewdney’s radar but she initially planned to tackle the subject a couple years down the road.
“But it seems it’s such an important topic, I decided to change my publication schedule,” she said. “The book is about what it’s like to be a little person, and have a person be mean to you and dwhat to do about it.”
Dewdney faced some of her own worries while trying to break out as a writer and illustrator.
“From the first moment it occurred to me that you could do something for a living, that’s what I wanted to do. I love making up stories and I love doing pictures.”
But her first book, “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” wasn’t published until 2005. In between, she was a mail carrier, bus driver, waitress and teacher at a boarding school. The desire to publish never disappeared.
“I loved being a teacher and I had a lot of other jobs, but I thought my true voice was through books. I was going to do be doing these books whether anyone published them or not.”
Persistence finally paid off for Dewdney.
“I got two offers on the same day. I was teaching at the junior boarding school and I was living on campus,” she said. “I came home from teaching social studies, changed my shoes and there was a message on the machine.”
Dewdney said she became “mildly hysterical” after listening to the agent’s message. Keeping with her school schedule, she left to teach art, then went back home for lunch. There was a second message from the woman who would eventually become her editor.
“Then I got really hysterical. People upstairs thought I was getting murdered.”
It’s difficult to believe that any publisher could reject the very real expressions of Llama Llama. Dewdney expertly captures petulant child in the grocery store and frightened toddler at bedtime.
Dewdney said she’ll create stories over weeks and months as a snippet of language pops into her head. Eventually it gets into the computer, then the illustrations are oil painted. For Llama Llama’s moods, she references her own facial expressions.
“I’m really there with him on every page,” Dewdney said. “At this point Llama is my third child. I know him very well.”

Details on Dewdney's visit

Anna Dewdney will be at the Joseph and Judith Conda Family Literacy in the Park on March 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bowling Green State University.
The event, which is held in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, is free and includes book signings, crafts, food and presentations by Dewdney.
Each child will receive a goodie bag with a free "Llama Llama Red Pajama" book. There will also be a poetry reading contest and interactive technology games. Trinity Acres will have a live llama for petting.
For more information visit http://edhd.bgsu.edu/rc/litpark/.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:32

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