It is hard to not know we are in approaching Summer in Goa. Even if you choose to ignore the swarms of hatted tourists on two wheelers and the rising humidity, the scores of mango trees laden with green fruit remind you that sweetness in around the corner.
We brought The Sweetest Mango to our MOP sites this past week and enjoyed building reader responses to this well crafted story.
The Sweetest Mango for us is contextual and relevant. But more pertinent to our outreach program is that it is a story close to home. It is set in the town of Udupi and has tulu words and cultural illustrations that allow many of our ‘migrant’ children to make connections with .
We work in three sites that have a significant Kannada speaking population. While the story evoked interesting reactions to the word ‘tulu’ and also fair bit of ignorance about the town of Udupi we were able to use the story to make connections and inform children about geography, linguistic communities and cultural connections.
We played the estimation game that Suma and Jyothi play in the story as we sat close to a laden mangotree and had fun imaging 200 mangoes to 2 billion mangoes and the possibility of their sweetness.
I know our children are growing in listening comprehension and story grammar when their predictions are getting sharper and sharper. Somehow the new struggle is going to be finding enough of good stories to keep up with the audience. As soon as Suma began to plot the private indulgence of the Mundappa, there were declarations of her being selfish, not a good friend and someone suggested the monkey should get the mango so that Suma learns a lesson!
Malavika Shetty had other ideas when she wrote this book and that revealed itself beautifully. When the children heard that the mango had gone, there was a pause and Manoj said , ‘ Jyothi has it! ‘ . These are readers and they know it not. They use prediction skills so easily and follow complex plots and conflicting character traits with ease.
We all loved The Sweetest Mango, we all connected with the story and it’s content and we all await the Mango Season in Goa and each of us know what it means to share as we share books and stories every day in our lives and it is sweet!