Anna Dewdney

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Anna Dewdney
Dewdney at a book signing in 2014.
Dewdney at a book signing in 2014.
BornAnna Elizabeth Luhrmann
(1965-12-25)December 25, 1965
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died September 3, 2016(2016-09-03) (aged 50)
Chester, Vermont, U.S.
OccupationAuthor, illustrator
Alma materWesleyan University
GenreJuvenile fiction
Notable worksLlama Llama series
Years active2005–2016

Anna Elizabeth Dewdney (née Luhrmann; December 25, 1965 – September 3, 2016) was an American author and illustrator of children's books. The first book she wrote and illustrated, Llama Llama Red Pajama, received critical acclaim in 2005. She wrote other books in the Llama Llama series, which have all been New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been adapted into stage plays, dance performances, musicals, and an animated television series for Netflix. Many states and non-profits use her books for literacy campaigns and programs, including the Library of Congress.


Dewdney spent her early childhood in Englewood, New Jersey, where she attended the Elisabeth Morrow School through the ninth grade.[1] She continued her high school studies at Philips Academy (Andover) and then transferred to The Putney School, graduating in 1985.[2] She earned a bachelor's degree in Art from Wesleyan University in 1987. Before her work became well known, Dewdney provided for her family of four and their dogs by working as a waitress, a rural postal carrier, and a remedial-language, art, and history teacher at a junior boarding school for dyslexic boys with her partner, Reed Duncan.[3] She and Duncan had two children and lived in Chester, Vermont, near her sister, parents and nephews until her death at age 50 from brain cancer in later 2016. They bought an 18th-century farm house, which they had remodeled by Dewdney's brother in-law. Reed now lives in the home by himself. Dewdney lived in the home until her death on September 3, 2016.[4][5]


Dewdney began her career illustrating a variety of books for both children and adults. She gained critical acclaim in 2005 for Llama Llama Red Pajama, the first book she both wrote and illustrated. Her work is known for its emotive content,[6] signature characters, family relationships, and how it addresses the everyday issues of young children. The text of her work is often written in verse; because of this use of rhyming language, and because of Dewdney’s reading-advocacy work, her books are often used to promote reading and literacy.[7][8] The Llama Llama series is highly popular among parents, teachers, and booksellers; in 2011, a Miami, Florida bookseller actually got the Llama Llama character tattooed on her arm for a bookstore event.[9] Dewdney’s books have been translated into twelve languages: Chinese, Hebrew, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Latvian,[10] Romanian,[11] Hungarian,[12] and Italian,[13] and German tanslations are set to be published in 2019.[14] Partial proceeds from some of her works go toward environmental awareness and conservation efforts, most notably pangolin conservation in southeast Asia.[15][16] As of 2013, she has written fourteen children's books. In 2016 it was announced that Dewdney's Llama Llama titles were being adapted as a children's television series released by Genius Brands for Netflix in 2017, directed by Rob Minkoff and Saul Andrew Blinkoff, with Joe Purdy as showrunner.[17] The premiere of the series was later delayed until January 2018.[18]

At the time of Dewdney's death, she had about a dozen books in various stages of development and at least 30 more that could one day be published under the hand of her long-time partner, Reed Duncan. She passed away listening to her favorite children's story, The Princess and the Goblin.[19]


Dewdney cites Tasha Tudor, the early work of Maurice Sendak, Russell Hoban, Garth Williams, Barbara Cooney, Elizabeth Goudge, Frances Hodgson Burnett, William Steig, E. B. White, Munro Leaf, and Robert Lawson as creative influences.[20]

Awards and honors[edit]

Dewdney’s Llama Llama books have all been New York Times bestsellers, and several titles have reached #1 on the list. Her books regularly make the Publisher’s Weekly and IndieBooks bestsellers lists and have hit buzzworthy sales figures.[21] Llama Llama Red Pajama was chosen as Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book in 2011, setting the world’s record for most readings of a particular book on one day.[22] This event was recorded on the Today show on October 6, 2011, where her work was read live to the national television audience. Her work has been adapted into stage plays, dance performances, and musicals, most notably by Dolly Parton at Dollywood.[23][24] The Dolly Parton Foundation has also chosen her Llama Llama series for The Imagination Library, a not-for-profit organization serving young children through book donations. Many states and not-for-profit organizations use her books for literacy campaigns and programs, including the Library of Congress, which featured her work and a live reading by Anna – in its 2012 National Book Festival.[25][26] Dewdney’s work is highly acclaimed by critics and is often recommended on booklists by national reviewers.[27]

Other awards[edit]

  • Llama Llama Red Pajama: Scholastic Parent and Child "100 Greatest Books for Kids" award winner; Bank Street "Best Children’s Book" recipient; Missouri Building Block Award winner; National Public Radio pick; Carolina Children's Book Award Master List winner (picture book category)
  • Llama Llama Home With Mama: Children’s Choice Book Award "Illustrator of the Year" nominee (2012)
  • Llama Llama Time to Share: Children’s Choice book Award "Illustrator of the Year" nominee (2013); Thriving Family magazine’s Best Family-Friendly Picture Book finalist (2012)
  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama: Missouri Building Block Award winner; winner of Alabama's Emphasis on Reading program (grades K-1); Book Sense Book of the Year Children's Illustrated Honor Book (2008)

Selected works[edit]

  • What You Do Is Easy, What I Do Is Hard (her first picture book - illustrator only, written by Jake Wolf)
  • Grumpy Gloria
  • Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop
  • Llama Llama and the Bully Goat
  • Llama Llama Holiday Drama
  • Llama Llama Home With Mama
  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama
  • Llama Llama Misses Mama
  • Llama Llama Nighty-Night
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama
  • Llama Llama Time To Share
  • Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa
  • Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom
  • Llama Llama Wakey-Wake
  • Llama Llama Sand & Sun
  • Llama Llama Easter Egg
  • Llama Llama I Love You
  • Llama Llama Jingle Bells
  • Llama Llama Trick or Treat
  • Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too
  • Nobunny’s Perfect
  • Roly Poly Pangolin
  • Llama Llama Birthday Party!
  • Little Excavator (Posthumous, June 6, 2017)[28]
  • Llama Llama Gives Thanks (Posthumous, August 15, 2017)[29]
  • Llama Llama Television Show (Posthumous, January 26, 2018)[30]


  1. ^ Levin, Jay. "Anna Dewdney, children's author, illustrator of Llama Llama stories, dies at 50" Archived 2016-09-08 at the Wayback Machine, The Record (Bergen County), September 7, 2016. Accessed September 7, 2016. "That's doubly appropriate: The charming picture book deals with a little llama's separation anxiety on the first day of preschool. And Dewdney grew up in Englewood.... Dewdney, daughter of Winifred Luhrmann, also a writer, and Dr. George Luhrmann, a psychiatrist, attended the independent Elisabeth Morrow School and Dwight-Englewood School<1979 yearbook>
  2. ^ "Alumni Authors" (PDF). Putney Post. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 3, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  3. ^ "We Love Llama Llama". 2010-09-05. Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  4. ^ "Anna Dewdney". Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  5. ^ Grimes, William (September 7, 2016). "Anna Dewdney Dies; Author of 'Llama Llama' Books Was 50". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  6. ^ "Llama Llama Author 'Lloves' Kids". 2013-03-07. Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  7. ^ ""Five Questions for Anna Dewdney", The Horn Book, Roger Sutton, 4/12/2013". 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  8. ^ "Bestselling author of 'Llama Llama" books visits kids' literacy day". 2013-03-05. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  9. ^ Maughan, Shannon (2011-09-28). "Characters, Ink: A Children's Bookseller's Tattoos". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Books Etc". 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  17. ^ Steinberg, Brian (June 16, 2016). "Netflix Readies Animated 'Spy Kids,' 'Llama Llama' Series (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  18. ^ Whyte, Alexandra (December 15, 2017). "Genius Brands readies Llama Llama Netflix premiere". Kidscreen. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  19. ^ Krug, Nora (May 28, 2017). "The happy future of 'Llama Llama' after its creator's death". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  20. ^ Emmons, Sasha (2011-10-06). "Q&A With Children's Author Anna Dewdney: The Author of Llama Llama Red Pajama Shares the Story Behind the Book". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  21. ^ Maughan, Shannon (2010-11-18). "Llama Llama Sales-O-Rama". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  22. ^ "Llama Llama Red Pajama Selected as Official 2011 Campaign Book for Jumpstart's Read for the Record". 2011-05-12. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  23. ^ "Dollywood Penguin Players Bring Kids’ Book to Life"</ref
  24. ^ "Llama Llama Red Pajama: World Premiere! What Will Baby Llama Do Next?". Archived from the original on 2014-02-23. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  25. ^ "Anna Dewdney, Library of Congress National Book Festival, 'Meet the Authors' section". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  26. ^ "Anna Dewdney: 2012 National Book Festival". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  27. ^ Bowles, Paula. "Llama Llama Mad at Mama". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  28. ^ Little Excavator on Amazon
  29. ^ Llama Llama Gives Thanks on Amazon
  30. ^ [1]

External links[edit]