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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Llama Llama is an animated series based on Anna Dewdney's popular picture books about young Llama Llama (voiced by Shayle Simons). It emphasizes positive qualities like kindness, empathy, respect, and generosity in stories that will especially resonate with young kids but are enjoyable enough to appeal to a broader audience, including parents. Often the lessons come as the consequence of misguided behavior on the part of Llama Llama or one of his friends. But with the gentle guidance of Mama Llama (Jennifer Garner) and other grown-ups, the young characters learn to make better choices, resolve conflict in constructive ways, and be open to trying new things. This delightful, thoughtfully written series is a must-see, especially for those who love Dewdney's books.
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What's the story?
Anna Dewdney's beloved book characters arrive on the small screen in the animated series LLAMA LLAMA. Starring Jennifer Garner as the voice of Mama Llama, Llama Llama tells the story of adventurous young Llama (voiced by Shayle Simons) and his best friends Nelly Gnu (Islie Hirvonen), Luna Giraffe (Vania Gill), and Euclid Sheep (Brenden Sunderland). Stories generally center on Llama coping with a challenge of some kind, from fretting over a change to dealing with a meanie at school. When he turns to Mama Llama for help, the two talk about his feelings and devise a constructive way of handling the situation.
Is it any good?
This sweet series is every bit as relatable and affirming as the books that introduced these delightful characters to millions of grateful fans. As in Dewdney's picture books, simplicity is key to Llama Llama's success. Everything from the classic animation style to the gentle dialogue serves to focus viewers' attention on the stories and their solid themes of friendship, family, kindness, self-expression, and self-control. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles here, but that's by design, and it works beautifully for the show's purpose.
Even without knowing the books, viewers will quickly fall in love with plucky Llama Llama, stalwart Mama Llama, and the assortment of other animal characters who populate these endearing stories. Happily, the tales lean heavily on the books' content for inspiration, so the episodes will look and sound familiar to fans who have read (or listened to) them, even if the conversational dialogue takes some getting used to after Dewdney's trademark rhyming verse. Perhaps best of all, such strong crossover between written word and screen entertainment is an excellent opportunity for parents to enjoy the heartwarming Llama Llama stories in both forms with their kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Llama Llama's relationships with his friends. How does he respond when he's upset by something someone else has done? How does it help for them to share their feelings with each other? Why is it important to consider other people's feelings?
Do Llama Llama and his friends always enjoy trying new things? Can doing so be scary? Exciting? Why is it important to be open to change? How can experiencing something new change you?
In what ways is Mama Llama a good role model for Llama Llama? What positive character traits do you see in her -- for example, empathy? How does she encourage Llama Llama to make good choices? Does he always like the advice and guidance she offers?
- Premiere date: January 26, 2018
- Cast: Jennifer Garner, Shayle Simons, Islie Hirvonen
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Empathy
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
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