Saturday, 15 May 2021

Book Review: "YADIRA: The Beloved Friend" by David Chapman

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5


As with all the books that I review, this one is starting off with the full 5 stars and I'm especially liking the front cover before I even start reading it 'cos it looks interesting and the three cover stars are NOT all white and smiling, like a lot of children's books are, so top marks already for the author and illustrator... I'm wondering which sister is which though, 'cos there are three different ethnicities on the cover, so I'm guessing that maybe they are step sisters or adopted or there's some kind of magic within it that changes their ethnicity or something?  I'm intreagued (sp?) to know what happens already, so lets get started!

This book is aimed at 5-7 year olds and I'm wondering if they would keep reading alone judging by the character called Arya?  I'm just wondering if maybe the author could have chosen an easier to read name than Arya for such young children to pronounce is all.

The pictures have just answered the questions I had right at the start lol  I won't spoil it for you though, you'll have to get the book to read and find out for yourselves  which of the three girls on the cover are the two sisters lol

I was wondering why the horse was blue in the pictures and was tempted to knock a star off for being so realistic, but I'm glad I didn't now 'cos the horse has just explained it to me in the story.  It's an obvious fantasy book, which children will love as long as it doesn't get too far out there otherwise it'll confuse them when they are called back to reality.

I'm getting confuzzled by all the things that have happened already... in the space of a few paragraphs, Arya and Maya have discovered a new world, which they weren't allowed to explore, given very brief instructions from a stranger then they're back home and it's the next day and the task has been completed.  Then they are told to undo their baskets and pour the contents onto the floor... if an adult already has questions about it, then I'm guessing children would be totally flummoxed and may have given up reading already, so that is, unfortunately, the first star gone.  I had really high hopes for this book, based on the cover alone... I hope the author is just finding his feet and it'll improve as I read, 'cos I don't like knocking stars off anything  :-(

Oh boy, days are passing by in less than a paragraph now, which would leave the child reader asking the adult they were with what happened and the adult genuinely not knowing.  I've only just started chapter 2 and another star is already on its way out, unfortunately.

The author is semi-frequently using words that such young readers wouldn't have a clue about... "forth" in the first chapter and now "emerge" in chapter 3... I certainly didn't have a clue that those words even existed when I was still in the infants part of Primary School, but the author doesn't seem to understand that, unfortunately, so the second star is on the verge of being dropped already... I was really looking forward to reading this book just based on the cover, but I was seemingly duped by the illustrator - they set my confidence and interest levels too high, unfortunately.

Oh boy, now not only has the author chosen to use "rose" in the middle of a sentence (a 7 year old would only be aware of the flower rather than the verb), but now he's using the points of a compass too, which I'm pretty sure I didn't have a clue about until I was at least 9 or 10 years old, so that's the second star gone.  Same with "remained" - the language is much too mature for children who are just starting to read for pleasure and maybe alone.  If the author had taken the trouble to leaf through a children's dictionary at his local library or asked someone who had daily contact with the age group he wrote this for along with a lot more speech between the characters then it would have still been very much 5 stars, instead of its current three.

Now a week has passed in a very short sentence and the author is expecting a 5-7 year old to read, pronounce and understand what a sphere is!!  The author really doesn't understand the knowledge and abilities of his young readers unfortunately.  He's used "understand" now as well!  If it had been a story for 9-12 year olds then I wouldn't have had an issue with any of these things, but the authors word choices are way too mature for the age group he's written this book for, unfortunately.  

A couple of paragraphs later and the author has used "tambourine appeared" and "rhythms" which a 5-7 year old may know what the words mean out loud, but they are much too mature for them to read unfortunately.  "Unified"  and "glorious outburst" too now!  The author really doesn't seem to understand the abilties of the age-group he's writing for - vocab wise it's aimed more at the top end of Primary School/lower Secondary School, but his ideas are spot on for his chosen age group.

I've already kicked a star off for vocabulary choices, so I won't knock off another one, but the author really needs to invest more time in learning about the age-group he's writing for.

Chapter 6 was considerably better... a couple more word choice niggles, but other than that it was a good chapter.  I hope that means the author has got into his stride and the heads of Arya, Maya and Yadira now and last half of the book is better than the first half!

Chapter 7 was a good'un too... a couple of iffy word choices again but the author has got the descriptions and length of each chapter bang on now... just a shame that there were five chapters' worth of niggly things to get there  first  ;-)

And after a good couple of previous chapters, things have rapidly gone back downhill in chapter 8 unfortunately - word choices again, mainly, but using phrases that young readers would only have heard in passing when their grandparents were talking about their own parents... to quote directly from the book:  '"Come," he said and beckoned them to sit down' is just one example, and 'Arya, Maya and Yadira bowed their heads in assent' is another example of the next paragraph.  One of my nephews is of the right age to read this book and not even his granny (my mother in law) would say that, but her parents might just about have done, so the author is using phrasing that is at least three generations out of date and his intended readers would have flung the book across the room in utter frustration by now, unfortunately.

The chapter lengths are pretty much spot on now... chapter 1 was waaaay too long and chapter 2 (or was it chapter 3?) was way too short, but the author has found the right length for each of his chapters now, thankfully.

Oooh!  Chapter 9 was good... my Goddess is even mentioned by name right at the end, I wonder if that was deliberate on the authors part, to get his readers asking questions and getting inquisitive or if it was just a lucky guess?

I'm reading chapter 10 now and it sounds like the author either personally knows what happens in Wicca or he's stumbled onto Wiccan practises after a search online.  It's not exactly what Wiccans do, but it's not that far off either and with a bit of fantasy woven into it, makes it sooo believable!  WTG on your descriptions in this chapter, Author!

Chapter 11 is back to using more mature language than his intended audience would understand again, unfortunately... maybe the author wrote this chapter on a different day to the magic he had created in the previous couple and his muse hadn't woken up properly yet?

Chapter 12 was a bit of a disappointment after such a good second half... it's kinda like the author had suddenly spotted his word count and realised that he had maybe 500 words to finish the entire novel before it was too long for his young readers?  If he had completely cut at least the first chapter and possibly the second, he could have immediately gained the interest of his readers, weaved the backstory in and would have had more time to finish off his book.

Overall, it's a good book, especially the second half, but the first half was a huuuge disappointment and most of it could have been taken out and used better in the last couple of chapters of the book, the author just needed to choose better, more understandable words for chunks of the book and it'd've got at least one more positive star out of me then.

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