Maks and Mila on a Special Journey
By Merel Bakker
Anne-Sylvie Frébourg-Gérat, illustrator
From Website: The beautifully illustrated children’s book, Maks & Mila are a fun and playful way to help children develop Joy, Compassion, Gratitude, Generosity and Self-Confidence in their lives. Through uplifting storytelling and narrative, the books help children to be Happy and Strong, whatever life brings to them, both at present and in the future.
Based on a special technique that uses the power of reflection and repetition, ‘Maks & Mila’ provide the perfect tool for children to embrace Wise and Happy thoughts and to share them with others. The books also feature a special font which makes it easier for children with dyslexia to read.
Combined with the powerful illustrations, reading the Maks & Mila books is a fun thing to do for both parents and children. The stories provide a beautiful opportunity for families and siblings to interact and most importantly: it leaves both with a sense of Joy!
Opening: Maks is a very cool young boy who likes to wonder about Mila smiles a lot and likes to see things from higher ground together they like to travel and while Mila always sees the bigger picture Maks notices the small things around
About the Story: Maks and Mila on a Special Journey is not a story but an affirmation. The two stars of the book carry around a Secret Suitcase in which they place all their experiences. The experiences Maks and Mila encourage the reader to save in their suitcase include the nice things they had done that day and the wishes they want to send to others. The two then tell us the wish we should send: “may you be healthy happy and proud” (no punctuation used).
Maks and Mila never leave on a journey, but rather encourage the reader to think of nice things they had done or said to others that day and the nice wishes (see above), they want to send to special people, including themselves. Readers are to place those thoughts into the secret suitcase which will allow them to have them whenever they want. Why is not really specified, but these thoughts and wishes are meant to help children find happiness and strength now and all their life long. Once done, the journey does not commence. Maks and Mila are too tired from all that secret suitcase collecting and end by telling children “this is a journey you can make every day” (no punctuation).
What I Thought: Having read Maks and Mila on a Special Journey several times, I still find it eccentric and something children will not understand or appreciate. The two children, Maks and Mila, look like they never change. The background might change, the size of the characters might change, different items may be introduced, and Maks might wink or Mila yawn, but they are essentially in the same pose throughout the book. I found the illustrations humdrum and quickly paid no attention to them.
The text is repetitious to an extent and a very, very fast read. From the first word to the last, readers are never told to pause or to stop. The text is one long, incomprehensible string of words from beginning to end. This is painstakingly unacceptable.
Regarding the font, the author uses an award-winning font designed to help dyslexic children read without mixing up the letters. The author fails to explain how the font accomplishes this or to give any information on how it was developed. She does, however, in a note to readers, stress the importance of “a special technique that helps children to find more Joy and Contentment in the their lives. I fail to see any special technique.
I feel sad, as a social worker, that I do not understand how this book can possibly accomplish any of the goals the author insists it does. It pains me that people often take what they are told as fact rather than investigate for themselves. A press release will tell you all sorts of things about a new book—not always correctly.
I feel sad that this picture book does not have an actual story that might have explained the importance of affirmations by showing children how they work, rather than telling them what to do.
I feel sad that I cannot recommend Maks and Mila on a Special Journey for any reason. This is a shame. The author is an intelligent woman who simply does not understand how to write for children. To write for children does not necessarily take a formal education, but it does require an education to write a children’s book. I can think of at least two places that an aspiring author can get an excellent education, and specifically, learn how to write for children and teens.*
Secret Suitcase app. available free at iTunes.
Maks and Mila on a Special Journey
Mila Publishing (SP)
Released June 28, 2013
Age 4 to 8
© 2013 by Merel Bakker, use with permission
Text copyright © 2103 by Merel Bakker
Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Anne-Sylvie Frébourg-Gérat, aka mini pois etc.
*The subject has been broached before, but apparently, it needs repeated. Amazon has a platform that gives anyone the opportunity to sell a book. This does not mean everyone should write a book, especially for children. I propose a test. Ask yourself, did you seriously want to be an author prior to the existence of the Internet? For most, the answer is “no.” What has the Internet changed for you? Reality is the Internet cannot change your abilities—not without education. It changes your opportunity, not your ability.
- Interview#20 – Author Merel Bakker (kid-lit-reviews.com)
- Good Free App of the Day #2: Secret Suitcase! Great app for positive thinking! (smartappsforkids.com)