Sweet Mundappa!

Recently, Tulika Publishers of Chennai held a I*Heart*Mangoes contest to coincide with the launch of its latest picture book The Sweetest Mango. I won a copy of the new book.

My Review of The Sweetest Mango

You can’t be a non-resident Indian and eat fresh Indian mangoes too. I live in Boston and don’t travel to the home country during the summer months, so I am pretty resigned to this fact. This July, however, I was in for a pleasant surprise when I walked into my neighborhood bookstore in Porter Square. There were no fresh Indian mangoes on sale or any such thing. No, no, no…

Instead, a sumptuously colored book The Sweetest Mango was on display in the children’s section. The book was VERY MUCH from India. That girl on the over could have been me when I was eight years old. I flipped through the pages to read the story of Jyoti, who gorged on the golden fruit, both plain and in cooked dishes, all through that hot season. Even so, she got a little greedy. I could empathize with the little girl’s quandary: keep the humongous  mundappa ripening on the nearby tree as a treat for herself, or  reveal this juicy secret to her best friend? As adults, we go through similar dilemmas when it comes to sharing even with our favorite people. I loved the theme. The coconut-sized mango was a variety I hadn’t heard about before. (I am a banganapalli fan myself.) But someday, I hope to travel to the land of the mundappa mango .

The story is supposed to be set in Udipi. You know this from the text, but you wouldn’t know that from the illustrations. Though lush and vividly colored, these could be scenes from any village in South India. The level of detail and specificity found in other Tulika books was missing. As a birder, I would have been happier to see a specific bird species, local to the area, instead of the generic freckled chick. Again, in most other Tulika books we are supposed to guess the meanings of Indian words from the context, but this one came with a glossary for simple Tulu words.

But these are quibbles of an adult. I was absolutely delighted to see how much R, a 4-year-old, had enjoyed this book. RM is R’s mother, a well-known and well-liked blogger. Sample this delightful exchange between mother and child, and read the rest of the post at your leisure.

R: Amma, mango book, please, please one more time. Last time, okay.

And we read it again. After her quota of 5 books.

R: Amma, please one extra book, please please.

Please amma, main please bol rahi hoon na…please

RM: okay, which one

R: Mango book 

RM: But but….we read it three times already in a span of 1 hour

R: Please amma, mereko bahut acha laga woh book.

The  little one loved the story and the illustrations. That is all that matters.