Picture Book Round-up – Llama Llama Mad at Mama & Skippyjon Jones

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney

Published by Viking Juvenile

The petulant llama on the cover of this book prompted that I take it home from the library.  I loved the bold, colorful illustrations, but the rhyming prose didn’t win me over, even though I enjoyed the message it conveyed. 

Llama Llama must put away his toys and join Mama Llama on a shopping trip to Shop-O-Rama.  His patience is quickly tested with the lines, noise, and waiting.  Llama Llama has a temper tantrum in the middle of the store, and Mama Llama has to convince him to be just a little more patient, just a little longer.

I liked the premise of this big, visually pleasing book, but the prose just didn’t do much for me.  I could easily relate to both Llama Llama and Mama Llama, having been on both sides of a shopping expedition before.  Shopping is not fun, waiting in line is not fun, packing up the cart, unloading it to pay for it, loading it in the car, dragging it into the house – these are chores that I despise now.  I have better things to do than wait around for my tomatoes and ice cream to be scanned  and packed away into a plastic bag!

Mama Llama quickly and diplomatically points out that she doesn’t enjoy shopping either, and if Llama Llama would just behave, they would be finished faster.  I loved this!  The expression on both of their faces revealed a wealth of emotions.  Llama Llama looks so contrite, and his mother looks at him so earnestly, wanting him to understand how she feels about the outing. 

Grade: B-

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner

Published by Dutton Children’s Books

I will admit that I haven’t read many picture books once I achieved the age of about six.  I moved on to books with mostly words.  Now that I’m older, I am sampling these visual treasures with a very different mindset.  I read them to see how well the art compliments the story, and to see if they will keep me entertained for all 32 pages.  I have discovered a delightful new world, where pictures propel a story forward with a minimum of words.   This is turning into a very fun experiment.

Skippyjon Jones is a delight. It is silly and fun, and it had me laughing out loud.  It’s another book that I wanted to share with someone, so I picked a few of the more cracktastic lines and read them to Dean.  He thinks I’m certifiable now, but gosh, it was fun trying to recite the lines without breaking into hysterical laughter.  Skippito Friskito?  Maskito? Poquito Tito?  The names alone had me laughing with delight.

Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat with a bit too much energy and a very overactive imagination.  He is scolded by his mother for hanging out with the birds (what self-respecting cat would do that?) and  is sent to his room to think about what it means to be a cat.  Too bad he gets distracted about 30 seconds into his self-reflection, and he imagines that he’s a Chihuahua.  A brave Chihuahua who is going to save a bunch of Chihuahuas from the bad, bean stealing Bumblebeeto.

Told with engaging, rhythmic prose and richly textured, detailed paintings, Skippyjon Jones is a treat.  Skippyjon Jones’  antics kept me entertained from the moment I picked up the book, and now all I want is to read the rest of the books in the series.

Grade: A

Review copies obtained from the library