Quick, Slow, Mango!, written and illustrated by Anik McGrory, is one of my new favorite picture books. It is apparently a sequel to Kidogo, published in 2005. Kidogo (the Kiswahili word for little) is a young elephant who likes to take his time. He stops to smell the flowers, and say hello to butterflies and snails along the way. PolePole (which means slowly, slowly) is a young monkey who constantly races about. When the paths of the two young animals intersect in the pursuit of mangoes, they each see the advantages of a change in pace.
What keeps Quick, Slow, Mango! from feeling message-y is the strength of Kidogo and PolePole as characters. Kidogo in particular is three-dimensional. He's a kid enjoying life. He can't pass a hole without stopping to sit in it. He pretends to be a rock (I love the subtle humor of this). He splashes about in the water with joy. McGrory's illustrations of Kidogo show the elephant's emotions (and the author's affection for him) on every page.
PolePole offers more comic relief, struggling to catch as many mangoes as possible. She runs, and gets tangled up in her tail. She retains a smile, even as she is falling into the river. She is irrepressible, though capable of learning.
The pencil and watercolor illustrations in Quick, Slow, Mango! are luminous, with the orange and green colors of the mangoes repeating in the background. They're also action-filled and expressive. I challenge anyone to look at the sketch of Kidogo with a butterfly on his nose without laughing.
McGrory's illustrations are in fact so strong that the text feels almost unnecessary, existing mainly to round out the pictures, and add dialog and humor. Here's a snippet (the text from 3 pages):
"Slowly Kidogo waded into the cool water. He splashed and made waves. He sprayed at the sky. He took a deep drink.
He admired the mangoes floating past.
Meanwhile, high in the uppermost branches of her tree, PolePole dashed at the very last mango. It flew through the air. And so did PolePole."
The use of a few Kiswahili words is a nice touch, to add to the book's African feel.
I think that preschoolers will enjoy spending time with Kidogo and PolePole. I hope that the elephant and the money will have other adventures in future books.
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).