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

#EnidBlyton Read: Adventure of the Strange Ruby #Mystery #Children’sLiterature #Review

After finishing my revisits of the Malory Towers books (series review here), I haven’t picked a series to read next yet, so thought I’d read a standalone in the meantime. This is a standalone by Blyton published in 1960, though I think in a revised (?) version, it has been repackaged as part of a series, The Young Adventurers. I came across it fairly recently, so it isn’t one I’d read as a child. I read the original version. Two children Pat and his sister Tessa come across a newspaper report one morning, describing a strange ruby (that of course, brings ill luck to any who have it) once the eye of an idol in India, which has now been inherited by two children, twins, David and Faith Gathergood. These it turns out were children they had met and befriended on a trip to Swanage the previous year. They decide to write to the children, who hope that they will meet again next holiday, but soon they receive another, more strange letter, sent in strange circumstances by the twins who claim they are being taken to a place called Brinking Hill for a holiday by their new governess. The old one left, frightened by the curse. Pat and Tessa who are once again to go Swanage find that this place is not very far from where they will be. Once there, they make their way to find Brinking Hill (which turns out to be Brinkin Hill), and find after some exploring that the twins are indeed there and being held prisoner by their governess who is hand-in-glove with the villains. The children come up with a plan to rescue their friends but not all goes as it should, and they find themselves in a spot of trouble.

This was a short, quick read, a typical adventure story from Blyton, perhaps slight different in a way, in the sense that one is plunged into the adventure right from the start, with not too much background or any build-up, and things are pretty action packed all through, with something or other taking place almost on every page, right until they escape the villains at the end. Still the children find the time to have enjoyable meals and paddle in the pond in the midst of it all. From the title itself, I did expect the book to have some stereotypical elements—the strange ruby had to be from a mysterious temple in India of course, and there would obviously be ‘villains’ from there out to recover it. And so it was, so not particularly PC in that way, but that of course, one didn’t expect it to be. But there are other little things, outright errors which were rather annoying. There is a temple on an island which the children find, which has idols and such, and then minarets! Why on earth would a temple have minarets? Even the illustrator (ok, he was may be being faithful to the description) has given this so-called temple very Mughal architectural characteristics—way off. There wasn’t also any explanation of who the villains actually were and why they wanted the ruby, which one does get some idea of in Blyton’s mysteries usually.

Quibbles aside, as a children’s adventure story it was a nice read—exciting, action-packed, and a good bit of fun. The children make mistakes of course when they are dealing with the ‘villains’ but still, they do a fairly decent job. As expected from Blyton, there is also lots of food! Nice read, and while I did enjoy it a fair bit, I didn’t as much as I had thought I would!

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Any other adventure stories around the same/similar theme/s? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image source: the Enid Blyton Society Site here, where you can also find a full review as well.

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!  

Shelf Control #75: Monster Mission by Eva Ibbotson

Wednesday, the 29th of January–Shelf Control time once again! A weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, Shelf Control 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. 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!

For this, the final Shelf Control post for this month, my pick is a children’s book, Monster Mission by Eva Ibbotson. First published in 1999, this book has also appeared under an alternative title, Island of the Aunts. The book has been a School Library Journal best book of the year for the year 2000.

The book takes us to an extraordinary island inhabited by fantastic creatures including mermaids, selkies, and kraken, all looked after by three sisters. But as the ‘aunts’ are growing older, they decide to find (kidnap) three children to come to the island and take over their work. But not all the children are willing to do this. Then the island is suddenly under seige, and a wicked man plans to use the island’s magical creatures to make money. So it falls to the children to save themselves and their new friends. Will they be able to do it?

Eva Ibbotson, Austrian-born British novelist, wrote both children’s novels as well as novels for adults (and young adults). Most of her children’s books feature magical or supernatural creatures, but presented in a fun and likeable rather than scary way. Themes related to nature–its relentless destruction by human beings are part of some of the books as is the theme of everyone, however different, needing/being entitled to a home where they can be secure, something that reflects her own experiences having had to flee the Nazi regime, and also her views on experiments on animals (having trained as a physiologist). I’ve read a few of her children’s books earlier including Not Just a Witch, The Great Ghost Rescue (review here), and Dial-a-Ghost (review here) all of which I enjoyed very much–while they do go into more serious themes, they are still enjoyable and fun. If this one is on the same lines, I’m sure I will enjoy this very much too.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? What about Eva Ibbotson’s other books? Any favourites among these? Any others on similar lines (likeable ghosts)? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Info on the book is from Goodreads (here) and Wikipedia (here), and on the author from Wikipedia (here). [The wikipedia link on the book has a full summary so I think perhaps you should avoid that unless you’ve read the book].

Malory Towers Series Review #EnidBlyton #Children’sBooks #SchoolStories

Last week I finally finished my revisit of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers books. (I say finally because while I started my revisits last year, and finished the first five books, because of various things, I only got to the final book this year). While I have reviewed each of the books individually as I read them, this post is my thoughts and impressions of the series overall.

Malory Towers is a six-book series by Blyton, set in the boarding school of the same name, in Cornwall. The series was published between 1946 and 1951. (There are further books by author Pamela Cox; while I didn’t these include in my reads, but you can find more about these on the World of Blyton blog here and the Blyton Society Page here). This is one of three school series by Blyton, who also wrote at least one standalone school story Mischief at St Rollo’s. (I have a post about her school stories generally here). The stories feature Darrell Rivers (named after Blyton’s second-husband, Kenneth Darrell Waters) a young girl of twelve setting off to attend school at Malory Towers in the first book, First Term at Malory Towers, and trace her journey until her last term when she is about to turn eighteen, finish school, and join St Andrews in Scotland with some of her Malory Towers friends. At school, she is keen to make friends and is initially drawn to the intelligent but sharp-tongued and somewhat nasty Alicia and Betty, but finally finds a friend in the more sensible Sally Hope, who after getting over her sibling-jealousy turns out a good friend indeed. In the later books (Upper Fourth), Darrell’s sister Felicity, and Alicia’s cousin June also join the school. We also meet various other students like the mathematics and musical genius, but scatter-brained Irene (always misplacing her health certificate, a standing joke in I think all of the books), Belinda, equally a genius but at sketching, Willhemina (Bill), and Clarrisa, who are crazy about horses, and also various others.

Being set in Cornwall, one aspect that stands out in the books (though not all of them) is the Cornish landscape–the school pool for one, amidst the rocks, filled with sea water by the tides. The beach which is out of bounds, and also the rather dangerous waves have a role to play in one of the books, as do the cliffs and gales in another of them, both resulting in some of the girls getting into trouble, for different reasons.

As I have been writing in most of my reviews of these books, the characters in the books stand out for their different temperaments, dispositions–some brave, some reckless, arrogant, kind, spiteful, self-centred, reserved, cowardly, and such. Also, there is, as in real life, no one who is ‘perfect’; even our ‘heroine’ Darrell, has to deal with her own bad temper which gets her out of control from time to time, and is not something she can always manage to keep in check; even towards the end of the series, though she does get better. But of course, while characters like her and Sally do manage to face their flaws and work on them to an extent, there are others like Gwendolen Mary Lacey, spiteful, self-absorbed, selfish, who remain so till the end, only to be shaken into their senses the hard way. So are some others. One student is even expelled from the school, which I don’t remember happening in any of her other stories (though I may be wrong about this). But as in real life, Darrell must also learn to deal with the fact that one will meet all sorts, and have to live with them. Blyton also brings up issues like pressure to excel at exams in one of the books, which is again something one faces in real life.

And also as far as characters go, in this series, like the St Clare’s books, there are also many ‘stereotypes’ (that one gets to see, often in Blyton’s books). For instance, Zerelda, the American girl, is typical, interested more in her appearance–her complexion, hair, and nails, than anything else; much like Sadie from St Clares. But Zerelda does want to become an actress, unlike Sadie, but soon realises that this too requires hard work rather than simply talent, and what she thinks is the way to act. Similarly we have the french girl, Suzanne, Mam’zelle Rougier’s niece, who like Claudine from St Clares, speaks in an exaggerated way (‘Police’, and ‘piggihoolear’, and such), and doesn’t have the same sense of morals and such as the English girls do. Though of course, in both cases, they are good-natured and likeable. And of course, the Mam’zelles (the stricter Mam’zelle Rougier, and the more good-natured Mm’zelle Dupont) too have a tendency to use the wrong English expressions, and are often at the receiving end of the girls’ tricks though Mam’zelle Dupont plays one of her own too–involving a set of false teeth, no less! In Bill and Clarissa’s love of horses, there are shades of St Clares’ ‘circus girl’ Carlotta, who is also a whiz with them! And in Gwendolen Mary Lacey, though she is self-centred and spiteful, there are shades also of Alison O’Sullivan, fawning over some new students if they happen to be beautiful or rich, mostly the latter. In a sense, her ideal students too (even if realistic) have a certain stereotype attached to them, which are her own views of what the ideal child is like–fond of sport, strong (or at least not weak), honest (and able to own up even where he/she has done something wrong). While there is nothing wrong as such with these ideas (of the ideal child I mean), she does seem too hard at times on people who are ‘weak’, and unable to speak up for themselves or know their own minds.

Compared to her other book series, I think over all, the structure of these books, even the characters are a lot like her other six-book series St Clares, which feature Pat and Isabel O’Sullivan, Twins who initially want to go a more exclusive school but finally find St Clares to be the place for them, sensibly picked by their parents of course. But while the Malory Towers girls play tricks like the St Clares ones, they don’t I think have any midnight feasts in any of the books, which the St Clares girls most certainly do. Also, in the Malory Towers books, there are sometimes characters who are supposed to have joined in terms that we were never part of (the ones not in the books), and we’re are introduced to them later, which again, if I remember does not happen as much in St Clares. Whyteleaf school in the Naughtiest Girl stories is more radical in terms of how the student body functions and such, and is also different in other respects.

But, similarities and differences aside, Malory Towers turned out to be an enjoyable series to revisit, for me especially since I haven’t read these as much as a child as I did the St Clares books. It gives a fun picture of school life but also a realistic one with ups and downs, lessons and sport, study and tricks, different people, but most importantly, of the journey itself.

Have you read this series or any of the individual books? How do you find them in comparison to other school series (by Blyton or other authors)? Which are some of your favourite school series/books? Looking forward to you thoughts and recommendations!

My reviews of the all the books in the series are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Find some interesting Malory Towers posts (there are plenty) on the World of Blyton blog here and here and on the Blyton Society Page here; a fellow-blogger’s review of a stage adaptation of the books here

Malory Towers Challenge: Last Term at Malory Towers by #EnidBlyton

The final Malory Towers book, and thus the final part of my revisit of these books, which I ended up picking up many months after I’d read book 5. In this one Darrell and Sally, and the rest of their form are returning to Malory Towers for their last term. Darrell and Sally and also Alicia and Betty are headed after that to college—St Andrews in Scotland, while Irene will go on to study music and Belinda art. Bill (Wilhemina) and Clarissa also have plans of their own to the others’ surprise. Being their last term, Sally and Darrell want to savour every moment and Darrell, now the head-girl, takes in the new students to Miss Grayling to hear once more the wise words she says to every new student. Being in the sixth form, they don’t think there will be any new students but there are in fact two—the domineering Amanda, a genius at sport who has come to Malory Towers because her own school Treningan Towers was destroyed in a fire, and is inclined to turn up her nose at the fact that Malory Towers isn’t as focused on sport as her old school was. And there is Suzanne, a French girl, Mam’zelle Rougier’s nice who speaks as all EB’s French characters too—with an exaggerated style but is still likeable and good fun. The term is as usual a mix of work and play, with some conflict thrown in.

Now that the sixth formers’ time at Malory is coming to an end, the only question before them is what they have made of their time at the school. While some like Darrell and Sally have learnt to overcome their flaws or at least be more in control of them, others like Alicia continue to be as they are but perhaps in a milder form. But of all of them, it is Gwen (Gwendolen Mary Lacy) who has gained absolutely nothing from her time there—and continues to be as she always was, no longer even listening to her governess Miss Winter who seems to be talking some sense rather than simply pandering to her now. Amanda too is difficult and clashes with the equally headstrong Moira, but when she decides to coach June, Alicia’s cousin, in tennis and swimming, as she sees a lot of potential in her, the project turns out to be good for them both. But there is also the inevitable clash of two rather strong personalities. Among the younger ones, the spoiled Jo Jones is a misfit, encouraged by her brash father to do just as she likes, and she ends up not just putting off her fellow students but taking steps from which there can be no return. And on a lighter note, since the sixth formers are now no longer in a position to play tricks, this too falls to the younger ones with the Mam’zelles once again being at the receiving end.

This was an enjoyable close to the series with both light moments as well as grave ones. Many of the girls have their certificate exams to take though Darrell and Sally don’t find it as hard since they have been putting in work consistently. But academic issues apart, there are plenty of dilemmas and crises in some of their lives. Gwen for one refuses to see sense, even though Miss Grayling charges Darrell to try one last time, and continues to pursue her own path. But lessons must be learnt in life and poor Gwen has to end up learning the hard way. Amanda too has to learn hers when she thinks certain advice is inapplicable to her. Among the younger ones too, this is the case for some of them. But whether the hard way or on their own, most of them at the end learn to face up to their flaws and perhaps try to work at being better. Of course (while not defending all of the characters), EB does have certain preconceptions or fixed ideas of how children should be to be ‘good’ or ‘appreciated’ as against being looked down upon which sometimes may be isn’t so accepting of difference; at the same time, I like the fact that even her main characters like Darrell and Sally are not without their flaws, and realistically, these don’t magically vanish or are magically overcome either but must be faced again and again, and dealt with.

But of course all is not as grave and bleak as I may have made it sound, there are plenty of fun moments too—no plays or performances but there are tricks, this time played by the younger ones—Felicity and June’s form—one involving a magnet and the Mam’zelles’ hairpins, which turns out so much fun that they decide to give the sixth formers a chance to enjoy themselves as well, finding excuses to play it in their form too, not once but twice, and with something further added on. Suzanne, the French girl, is like Claudine from St Clare’s, with ‘piggyhoolear’ English, and an outlook much like EB’s notion of ‘foreigners’ (and why she faces criticism) adds a further touch of humour.

I liked how the series wrapped up with us being told what lies ahead for all the students, even ones who’ve left, though overall, it was perhaps on a graver note than the rest of the books.

I’ll have a review of the full series up soon as well.

Shelf Control #55: Superior Saturday by Garth Nix #Fantasy #TBR #Children’sLiterature

The last day of July, and the last Shelf Control for the month! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is about celebrating the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains (Mine is currently at 260 including all the e-books I have). To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile and write a post about it. 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.

This month, in tandem with my ‘theme’ of reading sequels and next in series books, I’ve been featuring these in my Shelf Control posts as well. This week’s pick Superior Saturday by Garth Nix is book 6 in the Keys to the Kingdom series by the author. This is a fantasy-adventure series comprising seven books published between 2003 and 2010; this one appeared in 2008. Each of the books (as the name of this one suggests) is set around a day in the week. The central character is a twelve-year-old asthmatic boy named Arthur Penhaligon who lives with his large adopted family. But Arthur has been chosen to be the heir of ‘The House’–the centre of the universe. One Monday, an asthma attack brings him into contact with Mister Monday, in charge of the Lower House where he finds his true fate. Here he learns that must defeat seven trustees who represent seven deadly sins, and collect keys from each in the process. The keys are not actual keys but different objects that hold equal power and can do much of what is asked of them.

In Superior Saturday, Arthur has five of the keys, and now must face a greater challenge than any he has faced before for the sixth, as Superior Saturday is the oldest and most powerful of the trustees, and also a sorcerer with tens of thousands of sorcerers at her command. She has control of the Upper House, and has been the one plotting against Arthur all along. Alongside, his home city is under attack, and he can’t rely on his allies.

This was a book I randomly picked up from the shop-soiled section at my neighbourhood bookshop since it sounded like fun. I haven’t read any of the others in the series (or any other by the author), and while the world sounds a little complicated to may be understand from a later point in the series, I’d still like to give it a try. Besides the story, what sounds interesting about the series are the literary and mythological references/allusions sprinkled all through, including Arthur himself (Penhaligon/Pendragon).

The Author: Garth Nix is a children’s and young-adult fantasy author from Australia, known for the Old Kingdom, Keys to the Kingdom, and Seventh Towers series. He has also written various standalone novels for children as well as some works for adults as well.

Have you read this series before or any other books by Garth Nix? Which one/s and how did you find them? Do you enjoy books with literary references and allusions? Which are some of your favourites (books or series)? Looking forward to your thoughts!

As always, info on the book, series, and author is from Goodreads, and Wikipedia, here, here, here and here.

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!