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Friday, October 26, 2007

Is Your Mama A Llama?

[post written for Saffron Tree]

Is Your Mama A Llama?
by Deborah Guarino
Illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Suggested read together: 3-6, preschool
Recommended read alone: 4-8


'Is your mama a llama?' I asked my fried Dave.
'No she is not,' is the answer Dave gave.
'She hangs by her feet and she lives in a cave. I do not believe that's how llamas behave.'
'Oh,' I said, 'You are right about that. I think that your mama sounds more like a …
Bat!'

Lloyd, the little llama, is curious to know if your mama is a llama. So, he asks each of his little animal friends, 'Is your mama a llama?', and they reply with a clue about who their mama is. Eventually, Lloyd asks Llyn, another llama, who tells him what he most wants to hear.

The simple rhymes and the riddles make this book quite charming. At 2½, Ana is a little young to get all the nuances, but, she gets the general idea about different animals having mamas of their own kind - like a bat baby has a bat mama, a seal pup has a seal mama and so on.

However, I believe the book has appeal for toddlers, preschoolers and early readers in different ways, and can grow with the child. The illustrations by Steven Kellogg is simple and direct.

Four and five year olds, preschoolers and kindergarteners, would probably enjoy the riddles even if they don't have the vocabulary to follow every word. The simple and whimsical verses encourage preschoolers to interact as you read.

'Is your mama a llama?' I asked my friend Clyde.
'No, she is not,' is how Clyde replied.

Clyde then playfully hints at what his mother is:
She's got flippers and whiskers and eats fish all day…
I do not think llamas act quite in that way.

Given this bit of information, Lloyd guesses:
'Oh,' I said. 'I'm beginning to feel that your mama must really be a…

Turn the page to reveal:
Seal!'

The illustrations give away the animal, if we look at it from an adult perspective, because when Lloyd asks Clyde, the accompanying illustration shows Clyde to be a cute little seal pup. Similarly when Lloyd asks Jane:

'Is your mama a llama?' I asked my friend Jane
'No she is not', Jane politely explained

the illustration shows Lloyd next to a dainty calf...

However, that does not necessarily take away from the clue or the charm of this book.

It is a delight to read aloud as the words flow easily and offer dramatic fill-in-the-blank kind of a pause where children would love to blurt out the animal revealed on the next page.

The rhyming verses make it easy for early readers to phonetically sound out the letters and feel confident about reading the new words out aloud.

As with classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear books, I like the predictable start of each verse with 'Is your mama a llama?' I asked my friend ____________

Another little aspect of this book Ana and I enjoyed is that the book ends with
My mama's a-Llama!
And this is...THE END!

At the end of every book I have read to Ana, I shut the book and declare "The End" which tells her that we've finished reading the whole book and we can move on. And, to read out "The End" as part of the book was quite amusing for me.

This is one of the few books I ended up buying for Ana as it seems to have a long-lasting appeal and, just like Alphabeasts, I am hoping will grow with her over the next couple of years.
[This post written for Saffron Tree]

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