#Review: The Case of the Careless Kitten by Erle Stanley Gardner #Mystery #PerryMason #cats

This, the twenty-first of the Perry Mason books, was certainly a complicated one and a very interesting read, even though the end, or rather the denouement, done differently from usual, was a touch confusing as well, I wasn’t quite sure at first if I understood it right.

This one opens with Helen Kendal, a young woman of twenty-four, who gets a phone call from a man claiming to be her uncle Franklin Shore who had vanished (of his own accord) ten years ago, leaving behind all his wealth, an embittered wife, Matilda (rather a tyrant), a brother Gerald (who had his own law practice) and young Helen. Franklin asks Helen to contact Perry Mason and come see him with Mason and no one else. In the meantime, her little kitten Amber Eyes, who she has been playing with falls ill and is found to have been poisoned. Was it an accident? After getting the kitten treated, Helen who has revealed the phone call to her uncle contacts Perry through him, but when they arrive at the appointed place, with Gerald and Della in tow, more complications await them in the form of a message from Franklin which leads them to finding a dead body. But where is Franklin? Did he commit the murder, and if so, why? Mason of course solves it all, but not before another attempted poisoning, a shooting, and hints of dubious dealings. Everyone has a story to tell or secret to hide.

This is somewhat different from the usual Perry Mason tales for although the matter goes to court, and an arrest is made, we spend only a little time in court and it isn’t Perry’s client who is arrested or charged. In fact, Hamilton Burger, having decided perhaps that Perry needs to be taught a lesson, targets Della, and she ends up being produced in court (having already been arrested by Tragg). Burger tries to ‘remind’ Perry that solving the murder isn’t his job, and so Perry decides to take him at his word and not tell him any of what he finds out or deduces, so at the end while we the readers know the solution, Burger and Tragg are left to find out for themselves. One very much doubts that they do.

The explanation of whodunit and why was one I certainly didn’t see coming and with all of the twists in the plot, even after it was given I had to go back and forth a little to see if I understood it right. But despite that, overall I thought the book was good fun, and kept me reading because I had no idea how things would turn out.

And now to the most important part of the book—Amber Eyes, the kitten. This is the case of the careless kitten, after all, and the kitten is certainly at the centre of things. And she is careless, getting into a fair bit of trouble (may be a little too much, even). But her antics do also provide Perry with important clues as to what happened, especially her typically kitty behaviour.

A very enjoyable one with lots happening, twists and turns, and a totally unexpected outcome.

[p.s. As this was a wartime publication (1942), there is some anti-Japanese sentiment reflected.]

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Bookquotes: Quotes from Books (126) #TheWindintheWillows #Home #Quotes

But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his
own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted
upon for the same simple welcome.

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)

Image source: Wikimedia Commons (By Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15022619)

Tracing Cats in Christie #AgathaChristie #Cats #InternationalCatDay

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

There are plenty of mystery series these days with cats or based on and around cats (Goodreads has a full list here), and while I do enjoy many of these new cosy series, when I think of mysteries to read, the first ones that come to mind, and the ones I keep returning to are Agatha Christie’s books, be they a Poirot or Marple mystery or Tommy and Tuppence or Superintendent Battle, or even one of the standalones. As I’ve said in so many posts, her puzzles are among some of the most interesting I’ve come across, and usually (though not always) she manages to give us all the clues that one needs to solve them, and yet one never really sees them until much later (usually on rereads or in retrospect). But I’m digressing. What I want to write about in this post (as is clear from the first line) is not so much her mysteries, but the felines in them. When I thought about cats I remembered from Christie’s books, there were surprisingly only two that came to mind.

In Murder Is Easy (1939), we meet one of these. Wonky Pooh is ‘a magnificent orange Persian’ who belongs to Miss Fullerton, but her friend Miss Waynflete looks after him when the former dies in an accident–needless to say, the ‘accident’ wasn’t really one. Wonky Pooh not only has an unusual name, he also has a fairly important role in the story, but saying more wouldn’t be fair. This is, by the way, the fourth of the Superintendent Battle books.

A Murder is Announced (1950), the fifth Miss Marple book, is one of my favourites, with plenty of plot twists and great characters, and a denouement you certainly don’t see coming. And it also has a cat–and once again one with an unusual name. Tiglath-Pileser is the Vicarage cat at Chipping Cleghorn (where the book is set), named after the Assyrian ruler, and if I remember right, he gives Miss Marple quite an important clue to the mystery she has on her hands. But I don’t think the book describes what kind of cat he is, though.

These two unusually named cats were ones I remembered from my own reads, but when I searched online for more, I only found one more. ‘The Girl in the Train’ is a short story by Christie (which I haven’t so far read) which also features a cat, Peter, in the house of one of the characters William Rowland. But ‘Peter’ turns out to be a girl, and ends up having eight kittens! (Source: Christiefandom page here).

This rather short list, though with some interesting cats, was all I could find when I looked for cats in Christie at first. A further search, however, brought up this very interesting post on all the animals in Christie’s books on Crossexamining Crime (here). And this mentions a couple of others that I hadn’t come across before. Another short story, ‘The Strange Case of Sir Arthur Carmicheal’ has an element of the supernatural. In this one, Sir Arthur Carmichael, young and healthy heir to a large estate begins to behave like a cat, and just days after his mother killed a grey Persian! Cats also appear in Tommy and Tuppence, specifically Partners in Crime, where Tommy uses some alley cats to get himself rescued. But in neither of these stories do the cats have names (so far as I’m aware).

And lastly, though there is no real cat in it, Cat Among the Pigeons (1959), the Poirot story uses the idiom in the title and all through the book to talk about the murderer who doesn’t belong.

With so few results, I did wonder why there were so few cats in her books (the Christiefandom page lists 15 dogs by name as appearing in different stories by her but only the first three cats I mentioned (dogs here). This is probably to do with the fact (as discussed in the post on Crossexamining Crime as well) that Christie was a ‘dog person’ who had dogs much of her life. When I think of her autobiography too, though its been ages since I read it, I can recall many of her dogs but not cats (alas, the index in my copy mentions neither as a category). But the cats she has given us do include Wonky Pooh and Tiglath-Pileser, memorable both for their names and roles, and ones I haven’t forgotten since I first came across them!

Have you come across any other cats in Christie’s books that I may have missed in my list? Do let me know! Do you enjoy reading mysteries with cats? Any favourites that you’d recommend, or ones where cats have a prominent role? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

I was planning to do this post sometime next week, but my friend Deepa brought to my notice that it is #InternationalCatDay today, and so I decided to move this one up! So a big thank meow to her!

Shelf Control #102: The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London #TBR #Mystery #Humour

Wednesday, the 5th of August, and time once again for Shelf Control! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where you got it and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week, I’m featuring another of my endless TBR pile on kindle, and one which is a combination of genres I like and so promises to be a fun read. The book is The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London, published in 2012. This is listed on Goodreads as the first Terrance Morgan mystery but so far there don’t appear to be any further books in the series. This as the fun cover suggests is a comic mystery.

Newly promoted Chief Inspector Morgan finds himself in charge of a case that seems hardly worth his time. ‘Invisible burglars who take nothing and frighten the cat at mealtimes’? But then they do take something, for valuable jewels go missing and an attempt is made on Blandthorpe Fargenstropple’s life. ‘A quirky cast of characters, witty banter’, a touch of romance, ridiculous mishaps, and ‘more than a fair sampling of animal life’ (including apparently radio-controlled ferrets!) is what this book promises!

This one sounds just like my cup of tea–a mystery, wit, quirky characters, lots of animals (all the things I love) and a great deal of fun. Reviews too seem to suggest that this will turn out to be on the lines I’m expecting.

Lia London is an American author and former high school teacher, who also served as a missionary. She has written nearly 40 books according to the Goodreads listing which include romances, romantic comedies, children’s fiction and devotional writings. This, as far as I can see, is the only mystery listed in her works.

Do you enjoy comic mysteries? Which are some favourites? Have you read this one? How did you like it? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image as always from Goodreads; author info from Goodreads (here) and book info from Amazon (here)

Shelf Control #101: The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White #TBR #Nature #Animals

Wednesday, the 29th of July, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week my pick is non-fiction, The Natural History and Antiquites of Selborne by Gilbert White. This book, first published in 1789 by the author’s brother Benjamin has been continuously in print since, with (according to the Goodreads description) over 300 editions until 2007.

The book is essentially a collection of over a hundred letters written by Gilbert White to Thomas Pennant, a zoologist and Danes Barrington a barrister, though many of these were never actually posted. The letters, among other things, are organised around plant and animal life cycles, and observations on different species including birds, quadrupeds and insects as well as vegetation besides general descriptions of Selborne. There are also some meteorological observations.

Gilbert White was born in July 1720 in his grandfather’s parish in Selborne, Hampshire. In 1749 he was ordained and obtained various curacies thereafter. Besides being a parson, he was also an ecologist, naturalist and ornithologist making detailed observations of nature and animals over years around Selborne where he spent a lot of time, including as a curate. The first edition of the book was illustrated by Swiss artist Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, who stayed at Selborne for about a month.

I have had this one on my TBR for a fairly long time, have downloaded a public domain copy a few years ago. Being interested in nature and animals generally, I thought a book written that long ago would give an interesting perspective. Also being written in letter form, it might be an easier and more interesting read than just text. This year Gilbert White himself turns 300, so it seems a good time for me to pick this one up finally.

Do you enjoy writings on nature? Which are some favourite books? Have you read this one? How did you like it? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

book description from Wikipedia (here) and Goodreads (here) and author description (here); cover image is as usual from Goodreads.

Find Lisa’s pick this week (here)

Children’s Book of the Month: The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle by #BeatrixPotter

I haven’t picked a children’s book to read or talk about for a while now. Since I have been mostly rereading books lately, my children’s book pick this time is a reread as well, and I chose this short charming Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. Published in 1905, this the sixth (seventh according to Wikipedia) of her twenty three (twenty four) stories of various animals. This is a very sweet little tale and as I have written once before (here), is one of the few I have read (I haven’t read them all, yet) in which none of the characters is spanked or eaten (or nearly eaten) or had their tails yanked off or any such (though many of these make an appearance or are mentioned).

Littletown via Wikimedia Commons
Mick Knapton / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

The story open with a little girl Lucie who lives in Little-town and has lost ‘three pocket handkins and a pinny’. Looking for these she goes about asking first the kitten, then Sally Henny-Penny and the cock robin, finally finding herself walking away from town where she finds a trail of small foot-marks. Following these, she eventually finds herself in a very tiny house, spick and span, where she meets a little washerwoman, in a print gown and apron, a striped petticoat, and prickles in place of golden curls, who introduces herself as ‘an excellent clear-starcher’. The little washerwoman’s black nose goes ‘sniffle sniffle snuffle’ and eyes ‘twinkle twinkle’. Lucie mentions the things she’s lost and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle begins to go through her laundry, the various different items that she has in her basket, and finally locates Lucie’s things while alongside also doing some ironing.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her Iron by Beatrix Potter
via Wikimedia Commons

In the laundry are some rather fun things, from the tabby kitten’s mittens which she ‘washes … herself’ but sends down for ironing to some lambs’ woolly coats to Mrs Rabbit’s handkerchief to things that other Potter characters we know and love have sent in–like Peter Rabbit’s blue jacket and Squirrel Nutkin’s red tail coat, minus the tail (yanked off, just like his tail, one imagines). Reading these descriptions is just so sweet and delightful!

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her Washing by Beatrix Potter
via Wikimedia Commons

Little Lucie then joins Mrs Tiggy-Winkle for a cup of tea before walking back with her to deliver the clean laundry, and once only Lucie’s bundle is left and handed over, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle seems to run away, and something rather strange happens. Was Mrs Tiggy-Winkle real, or merely Lucie’s dream?

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her Basket by Beatrix Potter
via Wikimedia Commons

This is a delightful and pleasant tale that brings a smile to one’s face. Perhaps it is set in a time long past, but still the reader can happily walk along with little Lucie tracing her small lost things and spend a little time watching the tiny washer-hedgehog as she goes about her business washing, ironing, and handing back the little items of laundry, tied in neat bundles. With Potter’s gorgeous illustrations, imagining them isn’t too hard either. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and the other animals that is. Lucie on the other hand, is seen as an ‘artistic failure’ which is explained by Porter’s difficulty in illustrating people (again from Wikipedia: here).

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle was apparently inspired by Potter’s own hedgehog of the name name and the Scottish washerwoman, Kitty MacDonald who worked for their family, while Lucie is based on little Lucie Carr one of the daughters of the vicar at Lingholm where Potter went on holiday (here)! This isn’t one of the Potter tales I read as a child. In fact I first read it only well into college, but it is one I love very much, all the same.

Have you read Mrs Tiggy-Winkle? Is she among the Potter characters you like? Which others are your favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts!

#Review: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Writing about my L.M. Montgomery favourites a couple of weeks ago (here) had me wanting to pick up and read most of them again, and since the Blue Castle was right in front of me, I did just that. Written in 1926, the Blue Castle can be compared at some level with books like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodson Burnett, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, and LM Montgomery’s own, Jane of Lantern Hill (even perhaps, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), but with a difference. While for the characters in those books, it is the change of scene that triggers the change in their lives, in The Blue Castle, an event triggers the change, which then leads to a change of scene and more change, and though certainly not the most positive event, proves to be the magic that our heroine needs.

 Valancy Stirling is twenty-nine, unmarried and with no prospects of getting married either. She is drab looking, prone to colds, and lives a dreary life with a rather hard mother, and a not very companionable cousin. She has never had a moment of happiness in her life, for even the smallest joys seem to be snatched from her or she finds herself being told off for even wanting them. Her other, much wealthier relatives (she belongs to the ‘Deerwood Stirlings’) aren’t very much better (a lot worse actually), and her role seems most often to be to listen to their largely adverse comments and observations or to be at the receiving end of jokes; to add to her woes, she is constantly called ‘Doss’, a nickname she hates. Her only solace lies in books, nature books (for her mother wouldn’t permit her to read fiction) by John Foster and escape into the Blue Castle, a world in her imagination where she can be both free and happy. But the worst is, there seems no prospect for anything ever being different.

But when she visits a doctor, for once without her family’s knowing, over a complaint and receives some alarming news, rather than being alarmed, she feels freed—free of all the fears and inhibitions that were holding her back, and suddenly able to tell her family exactly what she feels about them, well, more or less. This freedom also means that she decides to live her life, for all she’s been doing so far is existing, and not very pleasantly at that. To the horror of her relations, she takes up a job, and then takes an even more shocking step. But for her this means finally getting to live her dream life, and find her Blue Castle.

Valancy may not sound the most attractive of characters to start with, but one feels a lot of sympathy for her right from the start. And when she finds herself free and able to deal with her family as she would like, one finds oneself cheering her on and laughing at the thought of the looks on her family’s face when they hear the unexpected from her—one after another and another.  And with these changes she finally also finds some friends—people she likes and can talk to, even enjoys spending time with—rather than only those she’s simply been putting up with.

Like the other books I mentioned, and like most of LM Montgomery’s own books, nature of course has a role to play. When Valancy is living at home, she experiences it through the books of John Foster. But when she leaves home, she gets to experience it first hand, living on the banks of lake Mistawis, looking at the beauty all around her, a place where she can not only explore and spend time amidst nature, but have her Blue Castle, complete with cats!

This was a lovely read as always, though I felt as I did before that the ending (though I realise why it was how it was) was a touch melodramatic and even over the top, but still overall, a wonderful and cheerful read, about how anyone can have a little touch of magic in their lives, which can change it completely, and that perhaps even something not so wonderful could lead to something that is unexpectedly so!

p.s. This by the way is L.M. Montgmery’s one book that was meant for older readers.

Have you read this one? How did you find it? Did you like it as much as I did? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cover image: Goodreads

Squares, Bears, and Some Gentle Fun #Poetry #AAMilne

Bears–cute teddy bears to scary grizzlies–often make an appearance in children’s stories–from Goldilocks who came upon the three bears’ house in the forest (subject of a topsy turvy version by Roald Dahl) to Baloo in the Jungle Book, to Winnie-the-Pooh, and their relationship with ‘literary children’ has been described as rather ‘ambivalent’.* Some are friendly like Pooh and Baloo, but others well kept at a distance. One such instance, where bears’ ‘scary’ image is relied on is A.A. Milne’s poem, ‘Lines and Squares’, which ‘tries to make a poetic game map onto a child’s game, and vice versa’.* The poem first appeared in his collection When We Were Young, published in 1924, and illustrated (or rather, ‘decorated’) by E.H. Shepard. This book also has another famous poem ‘Teddy Bear’, said to be the first appearance of his most famous creation, Winnie-the-Pooh.

In the poem, Milne plays with the children’s game of walking in squares without stepping on the lines. As one does in the game of hopscotch, where one must jump through the shapes, and recover the stone or other object thrown inside without, among other things, stepping on a line, in which case you end up losing your turn.

Hopscotch

But in Milne’s poem, stepping on a line or across a square doesn’t simply put you ‘out’ of the game, for here, at the edges of the squares, lurk ‘masses of bears’ lying in wait ‘all ready to eat’, who else but ‘the sillies who tread on the lines of the street’. But our narrator (I don’t think it is Christopher Robin in Shepard’s illustration), knows better and tells the bears, ‘Just see how I’m walking in all the squares’. The bears here are cunning, and pretend that all they’re doing is ‘looking for a friend’, and don’t care in the least whether you step on a line or don’t walk within a square. But of course, they’re only growling to each other, of which of them will get him when he steps on a line. Our narrator isn’t fooled though, unlike the ‘sillies’ who might believe what the creatures say, and tells the bears, that they can ‘just watch [him] walking in all the squares’!

This is a sweet little poem, reminding one of the games one played as children, but of course adding a gentle touch of fun (well, may not that gentle since it does involve the possibility of getting eaten by bears). A lovely little read!

Have you read this one before? What did you think of it? Looking forward to your thoughts!

  • *James Williams, ‘Children’s Poetry at Play’, in Katherine Wakeley-Mulroney and Louise Joy (eds), The Aesthetics of Children’s Poetry: A Study of Children’s verse in English (Routeledge, 2018).
  • When We Were Young, Wikipedia (here)
  • The Three Bears Image via Wikimedia Commons (here)
  • Hopscotch Image via Wikimedia Commons (here)
  • Full poem here

Children’s Book of the Month: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

This is a book that I hadn’t read (or heard of) as a child, but was recommended to me by a ‘book’ friend who has led me to discover many ‘new’ favourites, and so I was very much looking forward to reading this. I had seen parts of a movie version of this (The Secret of Moonacre) but didn’t know until much later that this is what it was based on.

Maria Merryweather, a thirteen-year-old is heading from London into the country, to Moonacre Manor where she is to live with her cousin, Sir Benjamin Merryweather, as she has lost her father, while her mother had died when she was younger. With her are her strict but loving governess Miss Heliotrope, and King Charles spaniel, Wiggins. Maria is sceptical of going to the country which she feels will be dull after life in London, and the way there has not been very promising. But as soon as they begin to approach Moonacre Manor, it begins to work its magic on her and when they arrive and she meets Sir Benjamin and they are shown their rooms, she knows she is home. So begins her life at Moonacre where there is much that is mysterious and magical, mostly in a good way (little sugary biscuits placed in her room, her clothes being laid out for her everyday when there seems to be no maid in the house). But life there has its share of troubles too, with broken hearts and relationships, and a band of wicked men out to cause trouble, and Maria finds that it is up to her and her friends, new and old, but much of the time the band of animals at Moonacre–Wrolf the dog, Zacariah the cat, Perriwinkle the pony, Serena the Hare, and Wiggins (well, Wiggins doesn’t really do anything), to put things to rights, as has been foretold by a prophecy. To do this of course, she must also overcome her own shortcomings.

I simply loved this one right from the start, mostly because there is something very magical about the atmosphere Goudge creates—she makes you want to almost step into the book and live in Moonacre manor which is a warm, welcoming place, with lovely surroundings—so are the other houses described, like the old parsonage and Loveday’s house. Her descriptions too are beautiful. As usual I never remember to mark them when I read them but this for instance:

Never in all her short life had she seen such wonderful trees; giant beeches clad in silver armour, rugged oaks, splendid chestnuts, and delicate birches shimmering with light. They had no leaves as yet but the buds were swelling, and there seemed a mist of pale colour among their branches—amethyst and chrome and rose and blue, all melting into each other like the colours of a rainbow that shines for a moment through the clouds and then changes its mind and goes away again.

There are plenty of others as well. Here what she has to say of Wiggins:

But it is difficult to draw up a list of Wiggins’ virtues… In fact impossible because he hadn’t any… Wiggins was greedy, conceited, bad-tempered, selfish and lazy. … But though Wiggins’ moral character left much to be desired, it must not be thought of that he was a useless member of society, for a thing of beauty is a joy for ever, and Wiggins’ beauty was of that high order that can only be described by that tremendous trumpet sounding word ‘incomparable’. He was a pedigree King Charles Spaniel. His coat was deep cream in colour, smooth and glossy everywhere except his chest where it broke into an exquisite cascade of soft curls like a gentleman’s frilled shirt cuff….

While the plot may have its issues if looked at from a present-day point of view, I didn’t think those issues took away the generally magical atmosphere of it or affected my enjoyment of it. I loved the characters too—I thought they were quite unique and likeable. But they are realistic too, some of them allowing their egos to get in the way and taking the wrong decisions, as human beings are apt to do. And there are those that are a mix of the real and the fantastical, like Maria’s friend Robin (who she magically knows in London but meets once again at Moonacre), who might be real but has elements of Pan (I initially thought Puck since he was called Robin but then realised from his playing the pipe and connection with animals that he was more Pan). All the animals too are wonderful—from the lion-like Wrolf to Zacariah who can write in hieroglyphics (a tad much, but fun all the same, it’s a fantasy after all). Wiggins might do nothing but he’s still a sweet fellow.

And of course, I can’t not mention all the food—that was pretty much the level of Enid Blyton, plenty of it, delicious sounding too, and makes one hungry reading about it. This was a lovely read—I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four and a half stars!  

Children’s Book of the Month: Superstar Tapir by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy #Children’sBooks

This is as you can see a book for very young readers, but the reason I picked it up was that I heard about it (another volume in the series, actually) from a friend’s review and not only did the stories sound charming, the illustrations/artwork was what caught my eye—pages in distinctive stripes, and all the art in black, white, grey, and one specific colour—in this case, yellow/orange (the colour of a ripe mango-fitting considering the main character’s name). I actually wrote about this one in a Shelf Control post last month (here).

Mango and Bambang is a series of (so far) four books featuring the adventures of a ‘calm and clever’ little girl Mango Allsorts, and her friend, a ‘daring and devoted’ tapir Bambang. This, the fourth in the series, is a collection of four short stories, connected somewhat in that each story starts off where the previous left off, but is essentially a complete story in itself. In the stories in this collection, Mango creates for Bambang who has never seen snow, his very own snow day, complete with the experience of falling snow but in a very special way; Mango’s father, who balances books for much of the time, takes a break and takes Mango and Bambang to the fair, which smells of popcorn and sugar, here the friends enjoy the rides while Mango’s father takes a turn at the hoopla, but there’s also trouble as the two run into an old enemy, in no less than a mummy’s tent; Bambang’s friend, the little dog Rocket has always been interested in space, and when she disappears having set out to travel to the moon, Mango and Bambang must find her and make sure she is safe; and in the final story, the two are invited to the premiere of Bambang’s cousin, Guntur’s movie, ‘A Tiny Tapir’s Tears’ and while Bambang is impressed with his little but somewhat puffed-up cousin’s many talents, Mango makes him realise that he isn’t an ordinary tapir either.

This certainly was as charming a collection of stories as my friend had said in her review. I enjoyed them all—though if I had to pick a favourite, may be it would be the snow day. I loved the friendship between Mango and Bambang, and how they always stand by and help each other, in every situation, whether it is an adventure where they are escaping a villain, helping a friend, or simply making each other realise their true worth. The stories are as I said, complete in themselves, but there are also connections with stories from earlier books—friends they have met in the past, villains they have encountered, and such, so if one reads these as a series, these would add to one’s enjoyment, though reading a later book first doesn’t spoil one’s fun in any way (I have only read this one).

And (I have sort of said this already in my Shelf Control post) there’s lots to love about the book in terms of the artwork as well. I liked the illustrations and style very much, and also the whole design of the book—the tiny tapirs covering the front and back inner pages, the illustrated ‘cast of characters’ (or at least of main characters) at the beginning, and the distinctive striped pages with illustrations at the beginning of each story. This was a sweet and pleasant read (quick too), and I’m sure if you enjoy children’s books, you will love this one as well!