Author of "Llama" Books for Children Succumbs to Brain Cancer

CURE, Fall 2016, Volume 15, Issue 4

Author Anna Dewdney died of brain cancer, but instead of having funeral arrangements, she asked that people spend their time reading to children.

Author ANNA DEWDNEY and actress BRIDGET MOYNAHAN attend Jumpstart’s Read For The Record event at The Empire State Building in 2011. Read for The Record is a national campaign to address the educational inequities that leave some children unprepared for kindergarten. - PHOTO BY JASON KEMPIN / WIREIMAGE FOR JUMPSTART FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Anna Dewdney, the author of the children’s book “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” has died of brain cancer at the age of 50, but she asked not to have a funeral service.

Instead, Dewdney said, those saddened by her passing should read to a child.

“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,” she wrote in a 2013 opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. “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. When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”

“Llama Llama Red Pajama,” published in 2005, is a humorous but reassuring book aimed at young children about a baby llama’s anxiety at bedtime; it was the first book Dewdney had both written and illustrated. After its publication, Dewdney turned the idea into a series, writing nine additional titles that, together, sold more than 10 million copies. Next year, Netflix plans to air an animated television series starring the author’s llama characters, according to an obituary that appeared in Publisher’s Weekly.

Dewdney’s most recently completed project, a picture book titled “Little Excavator,” will be published by Viking and is expected to hit book stores in June 2017.

The mother of two adult daughters, Dewdney had been living in Vermont with her partner, Reed Duncan, Publisher’s Weekly stated. According to the obituary, Jen Loja, the president of Penguin Young Readers, which published Dewdney’s books, said that “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.”