The winner of a Moonbeam Silver Medal, Maui-based author Lindy Shapiro’s Moon Mangoes is an ode to children’s imagination and a meditation on parental love.
Sitting on the front steps of their “tiny blue house with olive green shutters”, Mama and Anuenue (Anu, for short) cuddle up just before bedtime. Facing the beautiful mango tree in the front yard, they engage in a soothing and poetic dialog, prompted by Anu’s “what if” questions.
“What if I ate up all those mangoes one by one, and I got so full that I turned into a mango tree?” begins Anu.
“I would bring you fresh, cool water to drink every morning. I’d gently pull out any weeds that block the sun…” answers Mama.
Anu continues her litany of “what ifs” by asking what would happen if, instead of a tree, she turned into a kolohe ilio (dog), a pulelehua (butterfly), a pua’a (pig), a mo’o (lizard), a honu (turtle), and, finally, the moon that shines on their mango tree. Anu’s imagination, like Mama’s love, knows no boundaries.
Mama’s answer to each question assures Anu that she would be understood, cared for and loved, “no matter what if”.
Patterson’s full-page illustrations, whose wispy surfaces seem to have been wind-swept, aptly chronicle the inquisitive girl’s imagined transformations––from child to different animals to silvery moon and back again.
This story will get a nod of recognition from parents; and any child who has ever snuggled with a loved one to imagine, read or listen to stories will enjoy the familiar feeling of connection and security the book conveys. Moon Mangoes’ many qualities make it a perfect choice for bedtime or lap reading.