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Anna Dewdney (1965–2016)

by Kirk Fox

Anna Dewdney, a best-selling children’s author known for her “Llama Llama” stories, has died at the age of 50.

Anna Dewdney, a best-selling children’s author known for her “Llama Llama” stories, has died, according to The Associated Press. She was 50.

Dewdney had been battling brain cancer for the past 15 months. A spokeswoman for the publisher Penguin Young Readers said the author died Sept. 3, 2016, at her home in Chester, Vermont.


She started her career as an illustrator while holding various jobs including working as a waitress and a mail carrier. She illustrated many children’s books including “The Peppermint Race” by Dian Curtis Regan. She found success in 2005 with her book “Llama, Llama Red Pajama.” She wrote and illustrated the book. The funny story was about a baby llama who had trouble going to sleep at bedtime. The book was critically acclaimed and a New York Times best-seller.

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The series now features more than 10 titles and has sold more than 10 million copies combined. Her “Llama Llama” series is being adapted into a children’s television series that Netflix plans to release in 2017.

Dewdney was an advocate for children’s literacy, and she wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal in 2013. She wrote, “When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language. We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human.”

Her publisher, Jen Loja, president of Penguin Young Readers, said, “The entire Penguin Young Readers family is heartbroken. And as we grieve, we also celebrate Anna’s life, in dedicating ourselves to carrying forward her mission of putting books into as many little hands as possible. We will miss her so, but consider ourselves so lucky to be her publishing family and her partner in her legacy.”

Dewdney requested that, instead of a funeral service, people read to a child. She is survived by her partner, Reed Duncan, and two grown daughters.

Please check out our reading list if you would like to read a book to a child in honor of Anna Dewdney.

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