Mangoes and Bananas
T. Balaji
age group: 
5+ yrs
Number of pages: 
Tara Books
tricksters nature and wildlife folk art animals
fiction, picture book, folktale


This story about a greedy monkey and clever deer is great fun, although it sticks to the rather conventional folktale format.

Mangoes and Bananas tells the story of two playful friends—Kanchil, the mouse deer, and Monyet, the monkey. Fed up of always having to scrounge around for food, the two animals plant a banana tree and mango tree in their garden. They are delighted when the trees finally bear fruit and can’t wait to enjoy a feast. There is, however, one problem. The mouse deer has to depend on the greedy monkey to climb the tree and pluck all the fruit. And however much he wants to be good, Monyet just can’t control himself when he sees a fat banana or juicy mango.

While the story, itself, is rather predictable, what transforms the book are the glorious kalamkari illustrations by master craftsman T. Balaji. The subdued hues of vegetable dyes, traditional patterns and beautiful compositions have created a work of art. Both adults and children will leaf through the book again and again just to enjoy the astoundingly lovely kalamkari illustrations.

Reviewed by Shabnam Minwalla