My heart aches and my eyes keep leaking...
The Llama Llama books were a staple in my house for years as my youngest son learned to read. They made bedtime extra special as he would snuggle under the covers while I read. When a new book in the series came out, he would get so excited about going to the book store to get a copy.
And when it came time to clean the book shelf in his room to make way for larger, more grade appropriate book, the Llama Llama books never moved. They have a permanent spot on his shelf, even at 9.
So when I woke up this morning to hear that one of our favorite authors has passed away from brain cancer, I was devastated. Maybe it's because I am still grieving the loss of my beloved grandmother, but this news felt like the wound was ripping open again. I am deeply and profoundly affected by the loss of Ms. Dewdney. I am sad I never had the chance to meet her, as she was scheduled for a school visit when she was diagnosed. For obvious reasons, that visit was canceled. But I did manage to get a signed copy of one of her books from a friend, who did meet her years ago. That book is on my bookshelf, safe and protected.
Publishers Weekly has a beautiful obituary for Ms. Dewdney, but I warn you. It will make your eyes leak. Ms. Dewdney was an advocate for literacy and reading to kids, but she also fought to teach life lessons through her stories. Llama Llama learned that it's okay to miss his mama, go to school, and how to deal with bullies-- and we learned right along with him in this house. Her characters captured my son's feelings and facial expressions perfectly. Maybe that's why I loved the books so much and feel such a great loss. When I read the Llama Llama books, it was like reading my son's story.
But as the obituary states, Ms. Dewdney wants us to continue reading to children. If you have not read her books, I encourage you to. Also, check out the website, ran by the publisher, for the Llama Llama books for additional resources and activities. It is charming, and I think captures the whimsy of these books and the author's spirit perfectly.