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inspired play

maya papaya and coverMaya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-Up 

by Susan Middleton Elya illustrated by Maria Mola

Charlesbridge, 2018  Hardcover Picture book, 32pp.

In the company of her amigos (her pets and toys), Maya Papaya plays dress-up throughout the year. Primavera, Verano, Otoño, Invierno…each of the seasons inspire their own play.

Maya Papaya is bilingual, Middleton moving between Spanish and English in the rhyming text. Mola’s illustrations offer visual cues and there is a glossary with pronunciations at the close of the book. I asked my bilingual daughter to read the book aloud to me and appreciated the smooth transitioning between languages. It was nice to learn some new vocabulary words.

Maya shows off her bufanda so long,

And grabs the gold mic to sing out a song.

She sings about sledding and riding on burros,

Snowball fights, fiestas, and cocoa with churros.

maya papaya and interior
Interior pages from Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-up by Susan Middleton Elya & Maria Mola

Maya Papaya loves every season.

She dresses to silly without any reason.

In raincoats or swimsuits or woolly abrigos,

She sticks with her friends—her furry amigos.

maya papaya interior 2
Interior illustration from Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-up by Maria Mola

Mola’s illustrations are pretty and full of personality. I like to read the colophon (I’m a nerd); especially how the illustrations are done. I found this: “Illustrations done digitally, using a tablet and created with spontaneity and a love for imaging each character’s story.” And while there are a lot of characters and Mola provides other opportunities for visual interest, her illustrations are not overwrought. You could reread this picture book multiple times and just pick a peluches or pet to follow through the season each time.

Maya and the season set a playful tone, inviting the reader to participate the fun. Anticipate that a reader/listener will their time with this book in some imaginative play of their own.

maya papaya and interior 2
Interior page from Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-up by Susan Middleton Elya & Maria Mola

Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-Up is a wonderful opportunity to have a picture book in your rotation that features two languages in ease and at play with one another. It’s important for a child to not only hear but see multiple languages. And while the temptation will be to read this one to girls, remember that boys also enjoy dress-up play and pretend with their toys and pets.

line clipartIf you are looking for a classroom gift, consider Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-Up for your preschool or early grade-school classrooms. Or volunteer to read it (and bring churros).

Susan Middleton Elya is a former Spanish teacher and the author of several bilingual books for children, including La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for los Niños, Little Roja Riding Hood, and Say Hola to Spanish at the Circus. She owns an antiques and book store in Danville, CA.

Maria Mola is the illustrator of several books for children, including Sparkle Boy and Koala Challah. Maria is a freelance illustrator and artist. She is from Barcelona, Spain, but she lives in Chicago with her husband and their two little children. She is passionate about bringing her art to the children’s picture book industry.

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