I have to be honest with y’all, I didn’t plan on covering Llama Glamarama by Simon James Green and Garry Parsons due to my strict “no animals” rule. But my mind was changed when Alessandra at Read with River shared such a thoughtful #LibrarianFightClub post, arguing that animal books aren’t really the reason for the lack of diversity in children’s books.
It really got me thinking. Who am I to tell folks that they shouldn’t tell their stories with animals? Am I excluding books by or about marginalized communities? Should I perhaps adopt an “almost always no animals” rule? The post specifically made me think of an ARC I had read a few weeks prior called Llama Glamarama.
In this rhyming picture book, we meet Larry the Llama, who lives in a barn with lots of straight-laced, rule-following llamas. But Larry is keeping a secret – he loves to dance. When his friends suspect he might be dancing, Larry runs away from his barn. While he is away, he discovers a poster for a carnival called the Llama Glamarama. Larry is stunned to find a huge crowd, music, and llamas dancing. He realizes he is not alone, which gives him the courage to go back home and tell his friends his truth, who in return reveal a few secrets they’ve been keeping.
Llama Glamarama is a bit campy and flamboyant in all the right ways. Adults will catch references to LGBTQ+ themes, though they are never directly mentioned. While this book isn’t specifically about the queer experience, it absolutely encourages young readers to celebrate their differences. It also builds a firm foundation of both acceptance and confidence in your identity – two skills all children need. So while yes, there is an animal at the center of Llama Glamarama, it still provides us with an opportunity to have conversations with the youngest readers about being themselves unapologetically and celebrating others who do the same.
I am so thankful to Alessandra for challenging my stance on animal books, because I would have missed out on sharing this delightful story. At the end of the day, Llama Glamarama is an entertaining picture book with fun illustrations that I’m sure lots of children will enjoy. Who doesn’t love llamas and rainbow boas?
Llama Glamarama officially releases next week (June 1, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)
Simon James Green is an award-winning author of young adult titles based in the UK. LLama Glamarama is his picture book debut. Please visit his website at simonjamesgreen.com to learn more about him and his work.
Garry Parsons is a UK-based illustrator of many children’s books, including the bestselling series The Dinosaur That Pooped by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter. To learn more about Garry and his work, please visit his website at garryparsons.co.uk.
Thank you so much to Scholastic for providing me with a review copy of Llama Glamarama. It was such a fun read, and has a great message…even without human characters.