Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Review - Aya and Papaya Keep Trying

Aya and Papaya Keep Trying (Aya and Papaya)
by Andy Abey
illustrated by Leo Antolini
Date: 2020
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Limited
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Aya wakes up with a big smile on her face. Today she is going to the beach with her family! Hat, suncream, towel, bucket, spade… Aya collects up all the things she will need for the beach. She quickly fetches Papaya. It’s time to leave.

At the beach, Aya builds a big sandcastle. But a huge wave washes up on the beach and eats Aya’s sandcastle, mouthful by mouthful. Aya is very sad, until she had an idea to build the biggest and strongest sandcastle in the world.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is probably the weakest of the Aya and Papaya books that I've read so far. The story is bland (until it gets preachy), the writing is all over the place, and mummy... what's up with mummy?

Aya is all excited to go to the beach. Much of the story is taken up with prep for the outing. After they get to the shore, Aya builds a sandcastle... only to have it destroyed by the waves. Her family urges her to rebuild. She pretends she's a princess, and her siblings go and find shells for her. On the way home, she's basically given a lecture about trying again when something doesn't go right.

Do I have a problem with the basic message? No. But I'm not a fan of how it's delivered. Part of the problem is that the writing is kind of weak. And mummy... Okay, Aya's mummy is apparently in the story, but since she doesn't actually appear until near the end, you could be forgiven for being confused. When Aya's sandcastle is first destroyed, she starts screaming. The book states that her mummy hears her cries. You'd think that she'd then be the one to come and comfort her daughter. But you'd be wrong. Curiously, Lilo (Aya's older sister) steps in immediately after to console the child. The way this transition is written--with a long block of dialogue followed by a speech tag that shows us that Lilo is talking--is confusing. This happens twice. The second time is on the way home in the car. The way the dialogue is set up, it sounds like mummy is about to give Aya some advice. The next block of dialogue is long and kind of preachy... and only at the end do we realize it's the sister talking (again)! It seems like a weird speech for a teenage girl to give her little sister. Why was mummy pushed out of this story? At one point, Aya declares that her brother is a prince, her sister a princess, her daddy a king, and her mummy a queen. But one of the pictures shows the entire family--without mummy--standing in front of the sandcastle. Poor mummy!

The pictures are the same as in the other Aya and Papaya titles I've read: colourful and basic. They're just average for me.

It's the writing here (and the inexplicable shunning of mummy) that really irked me. I don't think I'd recommend this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and Troubador Publishing Limited for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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