Llamas at the Library, Part 1: Kids’ Books

Here is what you can discover about llamas in books from the Winnipeg Public Library. These are all the WPL’s children’s books that appear in a keyword search for the word ‘llama.’

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney (text & illustrations), 2013


Main character: Llama Llama
Secondary characters: Nelly Gnu, Gilroy Goat, zebra teacher
Llama factor: 100%
Overall book rating: 4/5

Book 7 in Dewdney’s Llama Llama series, we are once again drawn into the schoolroom of Llama Llama, with his teacher the zebra, and his classmates the gnu, sheep, cat, giraffe, rhino, calf, and the bully goat. Everyone gets along great, except for the bully goat, who doesn’t know how to share and play nice. Luckily, Llama Llama stands up for himself, and enlists the teacher’s help to get Gilroy the goat to behave. Beautifully illustrated once again, with pleasing rhymes, and an important but not too in-your-face playground lesson, this is another solid addition to the Llama Llama series.

The other Llama Llama titles are also available from the Winnipeg Public Library, as picture books and as board books.

• • •

Harley by Star Livingstone (text) & Molly Bang (illustrations), 2001


Main character: Harley the llama
Secondary character: the shepherd
Llama factor: 100%
Overall book rating: 3.5/5

Based on the true story of Harley the real-life llama from Massachussetts, Harley is a fun story for young readers about Harley’s journey to become a guard llama (yeah that’s a thing!). Although the text is quite simplistic, Harley’s personality shines through, and this is an entertaining read. The many paintings are not exquisite, but they do match the text well. I like Harley because it accurately represents the life of a ranch llama to young readers—Harley is not anthropomorphized, but instead gets to be himself, and is still super cool. Harley is a total bad-ass llama. Go Harley!

• • •

The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman (text) & Betty Fraser (illustrations), 2006 ed. (original 1998)

The Llama who had no pajama

Main characters: varied
Llama factor: 1%
Overall book rating: …I only read the one poem. I would give it a 4/5

This book is ideal for parent-kid reading, but alas! only one poem is about a llama. The poem itself is very cute and entertaining (and fits into a children’s literature llama theme of baby llama and its mother), and the illustrations are lovely. But, I admit, I only got this book for the title and its llama content. So after I read the llama poem in question, I set this one aside.

• • •

Tales of Latin America: Retold Timeless Classics retold by Peg Hall with illustrations by Margaret Sanfilippo, 2001


Main characters: Acoynapa the llama herder & Chuquillanto the daughter of the Sun
Secondary characters: Acoynapa’s mother
Llama factor: 5%
Overall book rating: I only read the one tale, which was fine. 3/5

This short book for children contains five tales and one play. Tale 4 is called The Llama Herder and the Daughter of the Sun: An Incan Legend. It is a tale about a llama herder, who lives on Earth, who meets one of the Sun’s daughters, who is basically a goddess who lives in Heaven. They fall in love, but can’t be together (for reasons which are hopefully obvious in the previous sentence), but through some sneaking around, figure out how to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, there are no actual llamas in this story. It is just the man’s job title. Humph. The other tales are not llama-related.

Fun fact: this book is in the ABE (Adult Basic Education) section of the WPL. I had to ask a librarian where to find it. He thought it was strange that I wanted an ABE book. I did not explain to him that I was checking out every book in the WPL system with the keyword ‘llama’ in its description. I don’t know if an explanation would have made our interaction more or less awkward.

• • •

Maria Had a Little Llama / María tenía una llamita by Angela Dominguez (text & illustrations), 2013


Main character: Maria (human girl)
Secondary character: Maria’s llama
Llama factor: 92% (loses points for llama not being the main character)
Overall book rating: 3/5

Maria is an English-Spanish bilingual children’s book with full-page illustrations. It is only 24 pages long, with extremely little text. As you can guess from the title, this book is based off of the Mary Had a Little Lamb rhyme. But in this case, Maria takes her llama to school! I absolutely adore the idea of bilingual children’s books, but unfortunately the little text in this book is not very good—the English text barely holds the rhyme scheme together, and the Spanish does not rhyme at all, which I think rather defeats the purpose of basing it off of a known children’s rhyme. That said, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and tell the story in and of themselves.

• • •

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino (text) & Steven Kellogg (illustrations), 1989


Main character: Lloyd, a young llama
Secondary characters: various animals from around the world (apparently Lloyd can teleport or something)
Llama factor: 100%
Overall book rating: 4/5

A hugely popular book published 25 years ago, this delightful children’s book hasn’t aged a day. The illustrations are expressive and adorable, the positioning of the text is simple but effective, and the text itself is clear and entertaining. I am a little concerned about Lloyd’s mother’s parenting abilities (where is she while he is meeting all these other creatures!?), but he seems fine in the end, so he must be very independent and capable.

• • •

Llama by Caroline Arnold (text) & Richard Hewett (photographs), 1988


Main character: Gypsy the baby llama
Secondary characters: lots of other llamas
Llama factor: 100% TO THE MAX
Overall book rating: 5/5

This book should be called Llama 101. It is a non-fiction children’s book (in the same series are titles including Giraffe, Kangaroo, Koala, Penguin, and Zebra) with quite a lot of text, and many wonderful photographs. Well, technically it’s a children’s book. In reality, it could be used as a llama primer for all ages. From this book, I learned:

  • There is a llama in Peru’s coat of arms.
  • Llamas’ closest relatives (lamoids) are alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas, all of which can interbreed.
  • In Incan times, clothes made from the wool of vicuñas was so valuable that only royalty were allowed to wear them.
  • In Spanish, the male llama is called el macho, the female la hembra, and the baby la cria.
  • A baby llama starts walking ON THE DAY THAT IT’S BORN. Impressive!
  • Llamas have a split upper lip, front teeth only on their lower jaw, and they have three stomachs.
  • Because lamoids have lived in cold mountain regions for so long, they have evolved not only heavy wool coats, but also enlarged lungs, big hearts, and more red blood cells, so that they can breathe in the high elevations (but they have no problem living at lower elevations).
  • Although some people shear the wool off their llamas, most obtain it by brushing.
  • There are LLAMA SHOWS where llamas are exhibited and the prettiest ones get blue ribbons. At the llama shows, there are sometimes also LLAMA OBSTACLE COURSE RACES (the photos are priceless).

So basically this book is the best.

• • •

Coming soon—Part 2: Adult Books (fiction & non-fiction)!


About whoseroses

Rose is an arts administrator from Victoria, BC. She has worked at some of Canada's biggest and best festivals, including the Victoria Fringe Festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and the Victoria Film Festival. She co-founded the Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, and helped produce the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. Rose is passionate about theatre, spoken word, comedy, and her community. She runs on festivals.
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