What's the Matter, Aunty May? by Peter Friend
Ill. by Andrew Joyner, Little Hare Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921714535.
(Ages: 5-9) The unnamed hero of this story is a young boy, perfectly perfect in every way; perfect hair, perfect clothes and perfect manners. But does his perfection extend to domestic cleaning? As we find out he is nothing if not persistent as he systematically destroys Aunty May's mansion one room at a time all in the name of being helpful. The entire picture book is written as a monologue of the young boy as he asks his wealthy Aunt how she can possibly be so unhappy when he has just done all of the cleaning for her. As he sits upon a pink foot stool sipping a cup of tea in his knee high white socks and bow tie he ponders upon her ungrateful response to his assistance with her housework. In recounting his cleaning efforts we find out that some of the cleaning casualties include a now unhinged screen door, antique jugs and cups, the carpet which is now splattered with red ink and the budgie which had an unfortunate run in with a vacuum. As his recount moves forward we see poor Aunty May change from a prim, proper and composed harp-playing, tweed and pearl-wearing lady into a dishevelled, ink-splattered, unkempt and agitated one. The young boy is puzzled; what could possibly have upset Aunty May so much?
This is an light-hearted story about how some people see the bright side of everything and how perspectives of people can differ. I found the characters exaggerated and comical and think most children will find this book humorous. The facial expressions of each of the characters add to the wonderful illustrations which are so important in telling the story due to the optimistic retelling by Aunty May's 'helper'!