Daddies Matter Too

Cover of Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too

Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney

At La Casa de Kraft, Anna Dewdney has a big following. We learned of her children’s books through Llama Llama Red Pajama, the story about a little llama who is struggling with their mom, unwilling to go to sleep.

The series has a handful of books now: Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, Llama Llama Time to Share, Llama Llama Holiday Drama, Llama Llama Home with Mama, Llama Llama Mad at Mama, and Llama Llama Misses Mama.

Notice something? That’s a lot of Mama.

These are great books that are fun to read but all lack an adult male figure. As a father of three, who stayed at home full-time for a couple of years having some of my favorite books to read to the girls at night lacking a father figure, or even any slight hint of one, this series has felt incomplete.

Families are very different and kids have various different types of family structures growing up. I understand that single mother or other non-traditional family structures should be represented too. It was notable to me, though, that of all of the Llama Llama books, only the most recent, Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, mention a father figure and that’s the illustration of the Bully Goat’s dad picking him up at the end of the school day.

Being an active father involved with your kids is still seen as a novelty too often. While staying at home with the girls for a couple years, I can’t count the times well-meaning people commented how great it was that I “took the kids for a day” or similar comments implying and assuming that it was actually a novelty for me to have them out at all during the day, much less be the primary at-home caretaker.

For better or worse, a spin-off of sorts, Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too is now on the scene. For the Llammies out there, you’ll remember Nelly Gnu as the “new girl” from Llama Llama Time To Share who spends a day with her dad in Anna Dewdney’s latest book.

Quickly becoming MC’s favorite book, in the week we’ve had it, we’ve read it a dozen times together. The dad seems like a good guy, helping Nelly build a play house, including taking her to the hardware store and buying paint. He cooks dinner and reads to her at night. He’s a modern father involved with his daughter in multiple ways throughout the day.

I’m not sure how to read that the inclusion of fatherhood was put into a spin-off, but in either case, I’m happy to see this popular franchise pay some attention to the dads.

5 thoughts on “Daddies Matter Too

  1. Kraft….I found your blog after you responded to my JetPack support request (still not working), but my response has nothing to do with that issue. I read several postings and realized that you had some great ideas and writings.

    I am the father of a 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter. My wife and I are both educators and read many, many books to our kids, beginning even in utero! I too was amazed with the true lack of Dad books, which greatly disturbed me. I actually had some ideas, some 10 years ago, but without an illustrator it was not going to happen. A friend who is a local sportswriter also met the same fate. Who knows how the publishers would have responded or if they would have responded. In your opinion do you think this is a supply or a demand issue? Just curious.



  2. I’m not logged into my work systems now, but feel free to reply to the support ticket (if you haven’t already) to make sure I give it fresh eyes when I’m back on).

    I think it is a bit of a chicken and an egg. If more was available, I think more and more dads would buy and consume, both books meant for dads as well as children books with strong fatherhood figures.

    I think a lot of publishers are old school and aim for the market they know (and been able to count on)—mothers. Culture still assumes dads aren’t that involved with their kids and, I’m guilty of this too, it is often easier for dads to play the clueless, dumb dad than actually try to change the perception.

    There isn’t a single point of failure though. I’ve known moms that, for lack of a better word, didn’t trust the dads to do the hard parenting (doctor appointments, school conferences, etc). I’ve known dads that never stepped up to take on more than being the human jungle gym.

    There was a mom conference in Austin that I knew a fair number of the moms this last weekend. I was shocked reading some of their tweets afterwards about their husbands’ reactions after being solo with the kids for a weekend—seemingly something they hadn’t done before. That’s a whole thing I should write a post about.

    Back on point, I really hope to find and contribute to the “daddy space”, at least online. Dads need help and community, sometimes more than moms—how many dads grew up without an active father in the home?—yet we are less likely to organically meet other dads and create real friendships.

    Thanks for reading and hope the conversation continues. 🙂


  3. I think it’s refreshing to see a single mom handling things. You can look to just about any Disney movie for a father figure. Disney characters rarely have moms.


  4. It doesn’t have to be either/or. I never said the Llama family should of had a dad. Only that I appreciate Anna Dewdney (may she rest in peace) offered this particular book showing a father-daughter relationship.

    Since I wrote the post, I’ve had three more daughters. And I still get noise from people in the same way as this paragraph in the original post

    While staying at home with the girls for a couple years, I can’t count the times well-meaning people commented how great it was that I “took the kids for a day” or similar comments implying and assuming that it was actually a novelty for me to have them out at all during the day, much less be the primary at-home caretaker.


  5. Competent, stable, serious fathers are virtually absent from any media these days—indeed, many of the superheros and cultural icons children look up to are often defined by a lack of a father! Children’s shows and books omit them, and primetime and mainstream media like TV and movies often intellectually neuter them. If we’re not ignored, we’re the butt of a joke that comes in four or five flavors—forgetful, sleepy, Behind the Times, out of shape, or borderline absent.

    It’s a shame—I’m an educator and a father, and I see every day how the lack of a father figure hurts so many kids. But they don’t even know it. It’s a status quo of permanent incompleteness for so many kids, and hardly ever discussed openly.


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