Children will love this newly released series of books by Aleesah Darlison. Teachers and parents will take just as much delight in reading the books aloud as children will in reading them independently or listening to them.
The books are fun from beginning to end with The League of Llamas (LOL) — spies out to save the world from their arch-enemy General Bottomburp.
The series will appeal to those reading their first chapter books, whatever their age. Or, as Aleesah writes,
“With high action, high adventure, and loads of side-splitting laughs, this series suits young readers aged seven and over. And anyone who likes llamas. Oh, and anyone who loves laughing!”
My review of Book 1 The Golden Llama
As if a story about spies and espionage wasn’t enough, Darlison has filled her stories with fun word plays that will amuse and entertain all readers. James Bond fans will not be disappointed in the escapades, close calls and derring-do of top spy Phillipe Llamar, otherwise known as 0011.
The names of the Llamas in the League are spelt with double ll. There’s Phillipe, Lloyd and Elloise. There’s Mama Llama who rhymes and General Bottomburp, the beaver, with his alliteration. Darlison has also dropped in many other double ll words; like llamaborghinis and prob-llama (as in ‘no prob-llama). There are place names like Chickenslovakia, Crowatia, Portugull, Leechenstein and Killamamaanjaro; characters like President Ollama; and artworks like Llama’s Mother and Venus de Llama in the Musée du Llama.
There are fun acronyms that get you started with LOL (League of Llamas). There wouldn’t be a story about llamas if a little SPIT (Space Precision Initial Test) wasn’t involved. And, of course, any self-respecting agent for LOL must have double number code names like 0011, 0077 and 0013.
But the fun is not just with the llamas, there are the beaver enemies. Led by the aptly-named evil General Bottomburp, the beavers have a plan for getting rid of the LOL forever.
There is so much in these books to enjoy, including the illustrations by Simon Greiner. I’ve not covered even half. They are so clever and so much fun, I have no hesitation in recommending them.
The first book in the series is The Golden Llama. The blurb describes it this way:
The LEAGUE OF LLAMAS is on a mission to save the world!
And — if Agent Phillipe Llamar can stop looking at his lluxurious fringe in every mirror he sees and Agent Lloyd LLamanator can resist the temptation to eat everything in his path — they might even succeed.
But first, our bumbling heroes must foil the plans of the evil badger General Bottomburp, solve the mystery of the alluring lady llama in red and find the Llama Republic’s most prized relic: The Golden Llama.
Whatever happens, you’re guaranteed to LOL.
Aleesah Darlison is an internationally published, award-winning author. She has written over fifty books for children including picture books, chapter books, novels and series. Aleesah has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Environment Award for Children’s Literature, the CBCA Eve Pownall Award and the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award. Many of Aleesah’s books champion the cause of animals, the environment and child self-empowerment. Her titles include the League of Llamas series, the Unicorn Riders series, the Netball Gems series, the Little Witch series, Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix, Awesome Animal Stories for Kids, Warambi, Puggle’s Problem, Our Class Tiger, Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine and Emerald: The Green Turtle’s Tale.
In 2017, I had great pleasure in interviewing Aleesah about her book Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine.
Aleesah was happy to answer some more questions, this time about her latest League of Llamas series of books.
What gave you the idea of writing this series of books about llama spies?
I was out walking with my kids and their mates and we started talking about llamas (which we all adore). We started joking around about silly things llamas would do and say and the type of world they would live in. I had the idea of llamas as secret agents then everything else just flowed from that. Kids often give me the fantastic ideas to start my stories with.
How easy or difficult was it to llama-fy the words, including place names, constellations and artefacts?
That was a lot of fun, actually. I brainstormed different options, making loads of lists, and getting out an atlas and dictionary and going through those to give me starting points to work with. Sometimes, we’d be driving along in the car and the kids and I would start talking about llamas and llama-fying words so we had a bit of fun with that too.
The Golden Llama is a lot of fun to read. Was it fun to write or did you have to work hard to make it all fit together so well?
It was so much fun to write! Obviously, there are intricacies to writing spy stories and thrillers and building those plot twists in, but I’ve learned to be a planner rather than a panster so it helped to develop my story direction before I started writing. Building in all the funny bits gave me a giggle too.
What audience did you have in mind when you wrote the llama stories?
The main audience I was thinking of was children from 6 – 10 years of age, but I also hoped that the stories would appeal to adults who might pick up the books and read them with their kids. Just like popular animated movies such as Toy Story and Shrek, League of Llamas has mulit-layered story telling and there will definitely be jokes and references that older readers and adults will appreciate.
How would you like readers to respond to the llama series?
I want them to LOL, of course! That was my aim in creating the stories, anyway. I’d be totally chuffed if the books make readers happy and literally cause them to laugh out loud at the lloopy llama antics in the books.
What is your favourite thing about the books?
The characters – Phillipe is so dangerously handsome yet ridiculously silly, clumsy, and conceited. Lloyd is loyal to his llama pal, Phillipe, and totally obsessed with donuts. And Elloise, well, she’s a force to be reckoned with and is definitely a strong, empowered lady llama. Their personalities leap off the page, they feel real and seem funny to me, so hopefully the same will be said for my readers!
Thank you to Aleesah Darlison and Puffin Books for my advance copies of Books 1 and 2 and a very cute pair of llama socks.
The #LeagueofLLamas series is available from all good bookstores.
Visit www.penguin.com.au for more information.
@AleesahDarlison @PenguinKidsAustralia @PuffinBooksAus
Books 1 and 2 are available now. Books 3 and 4 will be released in July.
There are some fun free activities for you to download from the Penguin website. We have also added some suggestions below.
Suggested LOL activities from readilearn:
Note: These activities are not meant to detract from the children’s enjoyment of the book, but rather add to it. Identifying the techniques that author Aleesah Darlison has used to create humour helps children learn about and appreciate language and may encourage them to experiment with similar techniques in their own writing.
If the activities are exploratory and fun, especially if they have been child-initiated, the children will learn easily and eagerly.
The Golden Llama
Words with double letters
Set the children a time (e.g. five or ten minutes) and have them scan the book for words with double letters (not just double l). They make a list of the words they find. Who can find the most?
Have the children scan the book for place names e.g. Chickenslovakia. Have them identify the real country for which the llama-world country is named and mark it on a map.
Do the same for the names of other things, people, constellations and artworks. Many of the names are llamafied for the story. If you read the story aloud to the class, you could make a list of these llama-words and the words they are based on as you go.
Many acronyms are used in the story. Acronyms are abbreviations in which the first letter in each word is used to form a word. For example, LOL stands for League Of Llamas or, equally appropriate, Laugh Out Loud. What other acronyms are used in the book?
Don’t be allarmaed!
Darlison has llamafied (changed to ‘llama’ words) many common words; for example, llamaborghini, Halle-llama, lluxurious.
Find and list the llamafied words in the text.
Lamafy your own list of words. Write them in sentences.
Fun with calculators
When Phillipe, LOL’s top-secret agent was trying to remember the security code for General Bottomburp’s study door, he punched different combinations of numbers into the panel. Each combination spelt out words. (see pages 5 – 7)
Enter the same combination of numbers into your calculator. What words do they spell?
What other words can you spell using your calculator?
Can you write a secret message to your friends by getting them to enter numbers onto their calculators?
What was the secret code that Phillipe was instructed to use? (Page 11) What was special about this code and why do you think it was chosen?
What would be a good code for you to remember? Why?
Click here to download a free pdf copy of these suggestions.
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