Famous Llama Caesar stars in new children’s book about finding community

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Caesar, the No-Drama Lama, will be the main character in a children’s book by Portland music teacher Bee Dugan. The story follows Caesar’s journey to find a place without drama.

Caesar the No Drama Llama with owner Larry McCool at the 2018 Keizer Holiday Parade.

Bee Dugan had never met Marion County’s most famous llama when she started drawing it lazily on a TriMet ride in 2019.

Dugan, a music teacher from Portland, said she met Caesar the No-Drama Llama on social media. The Therapeutic Llama, who lives in Jefferson, travels the area to attend farmers’ markets, nonprofit fundraisers, and other events.

“I was just struck by a sudden inspiration: this llama’s name… sounds like a children’s book,” said Dugan. “This whole story came to my mind. “

Dugan had drawn sketches before, but had no previous experience as a writer or artist. Still, she said the idea was good.

“I would say God nudged me,” she said. “I tend to do a lot of random things about gut feeling.”

She uploaded a copy of her sketch to the Llama’s Facebook account and began speaking with owner Larry McCool, who agreed to work with her on a book.

Two years later, Dugan’s first book, Caesar the lama without drama is available at bookstores including Powell’s, as well as online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The 32-page story, written and illustrated by Dugan, chronicles Caesar’s journey as he searches for a place without drama.

Dugan says the llama’s journey in the book reflects his journey through life. For years, she said she thought she would be happy once she found the perfect group of friends or the perfect life situation.

“I was looking for a place without drama, I was looking for perfection,” she said. Eventually, she realized that she had to make her own happiness.

“What fills you up is more what you give, so that’s what the book basically tells you – it’s this character that makes this trip,” she said. “Ultimately, the purpose of the book is to teach people about identity, love, community and how to navigate it.”

The real Caesar, who recently celebrated his seventh birthday, was a staple of events in the Salem area before the pandemic. He’s recently started to venture further, McCool said.

Dugan first met Caesar in 2019 at a Lake Oswego farmer’s market. She discussed her vision for the book with McCool.

At this point, she said she had the text almost complete, but the illustrations became the bulk of the work.

Dugan then moved to the Oregon coast and received a visit from Caesar in August 2020, when McCool brought the llama to take photos on the beach. These became reference shots for Dugan as she worked on illustrations.

Dugan said Caesar’s behavior is fair between cats, who often shy away from humans who try to pet them, and dogs who overwhelm people with enthusiasm.

“This llama is very calm. He will come a little closer to you, but above all he has this stillness in him, ”she said. Getting to know him better at the beach helped her finish the book.

Dugan said she hopes the book will resonate particularly with people with disabilities or others who have felt different from their peers.

“This book is for everyone, but I think in a particular sense it is (for people) that work a little differently and can feel weird,” she said.

The paperback was released on September 27 on Amazon. McCool said he was not yet sure how many copies had been sold, but the Lama’s social media – more than 17,000 on Facebook alone – helped spread the word.

The couple worked with Friesen Press, a Canadian publishing house that helps authors publish books themselves.

The paperback proceeds, available on Amazon for $ 10.99, are split evenly between Dugan and McCool. McCool said his share would be donated to various charities supported by Caesar.

“If it blows up and makes us a lot of money, I would love to do a lot of things, but I know it won’t be that kind of book,” McCool said.

Dugan’s hope is that the book can help cover his living expenses.

“I don’t even have a car. I hope this book will help me buy a car, ”she said.

McCool said he is working to plan book signing events in Salem and western Oregon, where Caesar will be able to sign books via a stamp from his hoof.

“He’s going to stand right next to the perpetrator,” he said.


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