Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review - Max and Marla Are Going on a Trip

Max and Marla Are Going on a Trip
(Max and Marla #4)
by Alexandra Boiger
Date: 2020
Publisher: Philomel Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

From the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of She Persisted comes a Max and Marla story about being present and appreciating the world around us.

School is out for the summer, and Max and Marla are off to Australia! Max has always wanted to see koalas, after all. He makes sure to pack his camera for the trip, so that he can capture every moment and remember this vacation. Off they head by air and by sea, with Max looking for just the perfect shot along the way. But when he keeps missing the amazing sights while focusing his lens, Marla knows that she needs to step in.

In this final story in the Max and Marla quartet, the two friends learn that being together and enjoying their trip makes for the best memories after all!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I haven't read any of the other Max and Marla books, although I have read She Persisted so I'm familiar with Boiger's artwork. I'm not sure if this was the best book to introduce me to this series about a little boy and his owl friend. It was a little underwhelming.

Max and Marla decide to take a trip during their summer holidays. They decide to go to Australia. So they pack up their stuff and get into an airplane. Then they take a boat. Along the way, Max misses all the sights as he tries to capture them with his camera. When they finally arrive in Australia, Max has lost his camera, so he's able to finally appreciate what's going on around him and make some actual memories.

The message is okay, but it feels a little bit shoehorned in at times. I'm not clear on what the premise is here. Is Max just imagining these journeys? Or is the reader supposed to believe he's actually flying airplanes and piloting boats? In any case, it's not really clear, and the illustrations themselves are confusing at times; I sometimes can't figure out what Marla's doing.

There's also one glaring issue that will likely be noticed by a few readers. Presumably, Max is from North America (or at least somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere). He's on his summer vacation. He and Marla travel to Australia... and enjoy the summer nights there. Oops.

Overall, I'm not that impressed. The idea of enjoying what's going on around you rather than trying to capture it in a photo is fine. But the actual story and the hit-or-miss illustrations are just a bit weak for me.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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