Thursday, January 03, 2008

Llama Drama I: Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Whew! Mama Llama's put little Llama in his red p.j.'s, read him a bedtime story, given him a big kiss on the top of his head, and with a sigh of relief hustles herself downstairs to the kitchen to finish the supper dishes. For the moment all is quiet, and she relaxes with that warm, end-of-a-long-day feeling.

But upstairs in little Llama's darkened room, things are not so good.

Llama, llama, red pajama
feels alone
without his mama.
Baby Llama wants a drink;
Mama's at the kitchen sink.

Clutching his toy llama, whose face mirrors Baby Llama's own, Baby calls out for Mama. Taking a sudden phone call, Mama calls up that she'll be along soon. Baby waits, at first patiently humming to himself, but as the wait drags on, he frets and whimpers, and then starts to moan as Mama, all unaware of the tempest brewing upstairs, chats cheerily on the phone.

What's Mama Llama doing?
Baby Llama
starts boo-hooing.

Baby hollers, pouts, and finally shouts, as a horrible thought forms in his mind? "What if Mama Llama's gone?"

As Baby's wailing grows louder, Mama hangs up and runs up the stairs, bursting into the darkened bedroom:

Baby Llama
what a tizzy!
Sometimes Mama's very busy.
Please stop
all this
llama drama!

Reassuring Baby Llama that she loves him and always stays near, Mama settles the young one back in on his comfy pillow with a comforting hoof and a couple of soothing kisses:

Baby Llama...
snuggles pillow,
soft and deep...
Baby Llama
goes to sleep.

This is one of the best of the bedtime hiatus stories since Frances first strolled out of her bedroom in Hoban's Bedtime for Frances long ago. Alternating between Baby Llama's darkened bedroom and Mama Llama's bright and inviting kitchen and contrasting the very subtle facial expressions of the two characters, Dewdney's short and sweet rhyming text and her terrific drawings perfectly capture the child's reluctance to give up the joys of the day just past for the unknown zone of sleep. Llama, Llama Red Pajama is the perfect bedtime story for these long winter's nights.

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