Title: How The Mango Got Its Magic
Author: Sudha Murty
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Age group: 5-8 years
Do you have a mango lover or a little detective at home? If yes, this book is just for you! We got this book as a copy for review. It is the first chapter book that my 4.5 year old daughter read and I couldn’t be happier about it. Like me, she is a mango fan, knew names and taste of a few varieties by the time she was 3! Now, isn’t that the characteristics of a true mango lover?
When I first started reading the book with my daughter, I was not sure how to go about it, considering it is a chapter book; so it does not have the illustrations like picture books (more illustrations, less text), which she is used to. So, we started with our usual animated reading style. When I finished the first chapter, I asked her if she wanted to read further and she nodded in affirmation. This went on till we finished the last chapter, as the mystery just kept her going. There were pauses when we talked about the illustrations and tried to guess what is going on like we do with picture books. Mommy and dotty thoroughly enjoyed the story about their favourite fruit.
The story starts long ago when mangoes were not sweet. A father Dinkar and son, Shyam, who own a mango grove have an unexpected guest who gifts them a mango, that to their surprise, is very sweet. The guest asks them to plant the seed of the mango in their grove, which they do and await the day when they can harvest the sweet mangoes. However, at the time of every harvest, Shyam is disappointed to see the mangoes are gone. The grove’s caretaker denies seeing any intruder and hence, a night watchman is appointed. Despite this, the mangoes are still gone and he too denies seeing an intruder. Who could this thief be?
To solve the mystery, Shyam decides to spend a night at the grove and he not only encounters the secret harvester but also learns the reason for the secret harvest. Does this intrigue you? There is more! A subtle mention of sharing and greed makes the book even more desirable if you want to introduce your child to these virtues without being preachy about it.
Sudha Murty’s use of simple language and use of Indian context makes the story easy to understand even for a 4.5 year old. My little one likes the ending of the book when the mangoes finally become sweet – how else would she enjoy her daily dose of mangoes in the summer season?
I would recommend this book for 5 years onwards. Though my 4.5 year old (who is an early reader and who reads picture books herself by now) enjoyed the book but there were times when I could see she wanted to come to the end quickly and I had to modify my pace and tone to get her interest back (which I succeeded in, by the way!).
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