“Mango Allsorts was good at all sorts of things. That was not the same as being good, but she was that, too. Most of the time.
She had a nearly black belt in karate, and she could jump off the highest diving board at the swimming pool without holding her nose, use the Sicilian Defense when playing chess, and wiggle her ears while sucking on a lollipop.”
Mango is the kind of girl you want on your side. Brave, loyal, and willing to go the extra mile for a friend. Mango, while very good at all sorts of things, finds herself to be a little bit lonely in such a big city. When traffic is stopped one day, she investigates, and discovers an animal who will later introduce himself as Bambang. In her own gentle way, she calms the frightened animal. Amidst all the grownups who are shouting and yelling at the thing in the road to move, Mango makes herself very tall, declaring, “You are all being ridiculous. This is not a pig, or a danger. Anyone sensible can see this is clearly a tapir from the jungles of Malaysia. He must have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way.”
And thus begins an epic friendship. In Book One alone, there are four different stories involving a curious cast of characters. Mango and Bambang are the stars, of course, but there is also “George-from-the-Tree-in-the-Park, keeper of caramels: avoider of baths,” and “Dr. Cynthia Prickle-Posset, a neighbor with a net; doesn’t like sweets or children.”
Most joyously of all, Bambang is a talking tapir! There hasn’t been a story so clever, heartwarming, and absolutely delightful since we were introduced to Mercy Watson (who is, in fact, a pig). Polly Faber’s first installment reminds me a little of My Father’s Dragon, Ramona, but it is wholly original. Clara Vulliamy's illustrations are also incredible, and have the feel of a classic. I eagerly await Book Two, and advise all of you to run to your nearest bookstore to purchase this wonderful treasure of a book.