Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Sweetest Mango

PreS-Gr 2-Suma and her friend Jyothi enjoy their time together walking to school, sitting on shady branches in the trees near Suma's house, and especially eating mangoes. When Suma sees a large and juicy one, she decides to keep it all for herself. But can it possibly taste as sweet without Jyothi to share it? The lush illustrations bring the setting in southwestern India to vibrant life with scenes of playful monkeys, mangoes hanging "heavily from the branches," and clothing in bold colors. The author has set the story "near the temple town of Udupi" where she still takes her own family each mango season. She and the illustrator, who lives in Delhi, have infused their own memories into the story to create an authentic representation of life. Originally published in 2012 in the Kannada language, this English translation offers a rich multicultural experience for young readers through the setting, events, and language. Cartoon birds in the corners of pages offer definitions of terms such as "Ajja" for grandfather and "Dodda" for grandmother from the local Tulu language, an explanation of the varieties of mangoes, and descriptions of regional clothing styles. Children will identify with the joys of friendship, as well as the temptation to keep a particular treat all to oneself. VERDICT A story as warm as its colorful illustrations, perfect for introducing this particular region of India or for opening a discussion about sharing

My review originally appeared in School Library Journal, June 2022, p.63.

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