Polly Faber (text), Clara Vulliamy (illus.), Tapir All At Sea (Mango and Bambang #2), Walker Books, 1 March 2016, 112pp., $17.99 (hbk) ISBN 9781406359251
This is a story of an unusual friendship between a young girl and the tapir she saved in book one of the Mango and Bambang series The Not-A-Pig. So, if a tapir’s not a pig, what is it? It’s a herbivorous mammal with hooves and a long, flexible snout. And, in these stories, the tapir also talks. His name is Bambang. He appreciates fine hats and is particularly fond of banana pancakes with caramel sauce and chocolate sprinkles.
The book’s heroine, Mango, enjoys karate and chess and is keen to find the right hobby for her new friend. That’s the first adventure in the book. There’s three more, all around 30 pages, each the perfect length for a bedtime story. There’s conflict and adventure where Mango and Bambang demonstrate the best traits of friendship: trust, loyalty, love, standing up for your mates and helping them to follow their dreams. They clearly adore each other. I’m personally not keen on talking animal stories, but these certainly are unusual, interesting and well-written.
This is a beautifully-presented book – bold with a bit of sparkle, just like Mango. The dust jacket shows striking black, red and white illustrations, with gold foil outlines. All the pages are edged in red, which almost makes me want to put it in my bookshelf back-to-front just to show off the pages. There’s an illustration on every double-page spread with plenty of variation. There are full-page drawings, illustrations dancing among the text and across the tops of the pages. It really is gorgeously-designed with plenty to keep young readers engaged. It’s aimed at children aged 6+.
Printable activity sheets can be found on the Mango and Bambang website.
Reviewed by Carissa Mason