Have you ever finished reading a book and clutched it to your chest in love? I may have just sort of done that! In Book Monster HQ, I have just sat and read Mango and Bambang (The Not-a-Pig) and feel like I’ve just discovered a friend for life! This book was created by the fantastic team work of writer Polly Faber and illustrator Clara Vulliamy.
Mango & Bambang tells the story of Mango Allsorts a young girl who comes across a frightened tapir in the street one humpy sort of Wednesday (I totally agree with Polly that Wednesdays can be a little bit humpish). Among the crowds, Mango is the only one to step in and help poor Bambang uncurl from his tight ball and find his courage. As a result, and with the help of banana pancakes, they soon become firm friends.
On first look, this book is gorgeous, it reminded me of an old fashioned sweety, wrapped up in a beautiful striped wrapper. The golden accents and purple page edges all help to make this book feel really special. Like the creators it shouts quality.
The book is broken down into four sweet tales about Mango and Bambang’s first meeting and their subsequent adventures together. They are entertaining, full of great characters and creative storytelling. The balance of illustration and text is really well done and make the book accessible for young readers, but also great fun to read out loud, the ideal bedtime story.
Mango, on the cover, looks like a stereotypical little girly girl, but I love that she is certainly not that! She is a, nearly, black belt in karate (and uses this very effectively in one of the stories), has the kindest heart of any character I’ve read about recently and is incredibly brave and determined! She is a fantastic role model for young children.
Polly Faber’s writing is wonderful, the gentle humour reminds me very much of the loved Paddington Bear stories by Michael Bond. I adored the fact that the only reason Bambang couldn’t swim in the public swimming pool initially, was because he wasn’t wearing a swimming hat … forget that he’s a tapir!!! Just brilliant.
There’s no waffle here, the story is concisely written and every word has purpose, impact and bags of personality. It just genuinely made me smile. Apart, of course, from the part where poor Bambang was curled up in the road crying, oh!! My heart just wanted to break a little at that! Tapirs are such gentle sweet animals, so these pages really yanked hard at my heart strings. Each story is imaginative and playful. Any child reading could easily imagine themselves in these situations, but they are crazy enough to still be entertaining. The text also reveals little details about tapirs, their natural habitat and behaviours. I do like books that allow for further exploration of a subject, and this is perfect. Polly now just needs to whip up a children’s non-fiction book about these interesting creatures and we’ll have the perfect set!
The talented Clara Vulliamy is the only illustrator who could have brought Polly’s wonderful words to life with her stylish illustrations, and they are equally important in this book. Scattered liberally throughout the book, they work with the words to give the story additional humour and emotion. Soft shading and purple accents brighten up the inside pages and give the illustrations depth and personality. The additional characters in the story are brought to life wonderfully well here that you will recognise people you know! The garden in the big city is a particular favourite image of mine in the book, like a little wild haven!
Mango looks so lovely dressed in a sweet skirt and top outfit with a little bow in her hair, and yet in her eyes you see the pluck that she exhibits in each story. As for Bambang the tapir, I just desperately want him to jump off the page in that roly poly manner, right into my open arms for a hug!!! Just perfect in every way.
I know many of our little library visitors who will love to read this gorgeous book and do look forward to more in the future as I feel Mango and Bambang are a duo that could become a very much loved series of books!
I would like to add, in recognition of the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign that it is wonderful to see Polly and Clara given equal billing on cover and spine.
Well done both on this gorgeous gorgeous creation. If you are interested in finding out more about Clara and Polly (and why wouldn’t you?) then please check out their websites below:
Mango & Bambang Book Two: Tapir All at Sea is due for release on March 3rd 2016.
Thank you for sinking your teeth into this quite purple & stripy Book Monster Review.