Héléna and the Missing Papaya

Buy Helena and the Missing Papaya now! Available on Amazon.

The Story

Héléna, a lively young girl from Cameroon, realizes one day that the papayas from her father’s favorite tree are disappearing. Then the biggest, best, ripest one, which she promised to protect, also disappears! The mystery sends her on an adventure to locate the missing fruit.

This colorful tale for children transports them into the daily lives of children in an an affectionately portrayed Cameroon. Héléna and the Missing Papaya features original paintings from artists native to Cameroon that bring this country alive. Young children are captured immediately by the lively characters and the richness of the artwork, and there are plenty of details to inspire older readers’ curiosity.

Héléna and the Missing Papaya is also a great introduction to language education, with the whole story told in both English and French, the two official languages spoken in Cameroon.

Look for an accompanying activities book that will contain recipes, interesting puzzles, crafts, and much more!

The Characters

is a little girl with a big imagination. She sees many interesting things everywhere, even where others don’t think to look. She takes a little notepad everywhere, and looks for clues when something simply does not look right. When Helena grows up, she wants to write her own books and newspapers. She enjoys reading all kinds of books, and because her neighborhood does not have a public library, she usually saves up her lunch money to buy new books. Helena also likes crafts. She collects leftover fabric from her mother’s sewing shop to make hair bows and finger puppets. Helena’s older brother, Patou, is ten years old and just wants to play. Often he joins in on games with the neighborhood kids. But when he plays alone, he likes to make his own games and toys.
Cecilia on her BicycleCecilia is very friendly and has many friends in her neighborhood. She loves comic books and enjoys drawing on paper and on a computer screen. Cecilia wants to become a cartoonist for a movie studio when she grows up. She has an old bicycle that she rides to places, from the market to her mother’s print shop. Cecilia’s sister, Elisa, is only a baby. Cecilia enjoys reading her favorite stories to Elisa.
Abou with Soccer BallAbou is a young boy with an easy smile. He enjoys learning how to do business and likes playing and watching soccer. He has three younger siblings, whom he helps care for after school. On weekends, Abou helps at the crafts and gifts store that his father owns or plays soccer with his friends. They have teams in various neighborhoods, and they enjoy watching Africa Cup of Nations and the European Cup and UEFA Champions League soccer matches.

The Art

Héléna and the Missing Papaya showcases the talent of multiple young artists native to Cameroon, each with an amazing skill set and a style that is well suited to a particular part of the story. To see more detail about our artists, take a look at our Artists and Team page!