Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book #39: Is Your Mama a Llama? By Deborah Guarino, Illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Image from OpenLibrary.org

This classic book uses the repetitive questioning refrain, “Is your mama a llama?” as a baby llama talks with other animals. Each animal explains that its mama isn’t a llama because of where they live, what they eat, or what they look like. Finally, the little llama asks another llama, who replies, “Our mamas belong to the same herd, and you know all about llamas, ‘cause you are one, too!” The book ends as the young llama is joyfully reunited with his mama, who is indeed a llama.

The rhyming text and use of the reoccurring question make this book very attractive to children. Kids will quickly pick up on the pattern and be eager to help the little llama in his search for his mama. As you read the book aloud leave a pause for the kids to guess each animal’s mama. This will be easy for older kids who will recognize that the parent will be the same as the baby animal; however younger kids may be surprised when you turn the page to reveal the illustration of the baby and mother together. Steven Kellogg uses his signature style - the world he creates is highly realistic, yet the characters have larger than life qualities.

Talk about the different names for baby animals, such as baby cows are called calves. Look at this baby animal names chart. With toddlers and babies it’s enough to merely point to the animals in the illustrations as you name them. Older kids will appreciate spending more time talking about each animal.

Make your own matching game with pictures of mama and baby animals. I like Toddler Approved’s idea of laying the pictures face up on the floor for younger kids. Older kids will need the added memory challenge of face down cards.

The rhyming text of this book makes it a highly recommended book for working on phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is knowing that words are made up of smaller sounds (letters, syllables) and being able to recognize words that do or don't rhyme. Check out this great blog from The Grand County Library District Youth Services Every Child Ready To Read Project for more about phonological awareness. Ideal Curriculum provides several suggestions on how to increase your child’s phonological awareness in a number of fun ways.

-Amy

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