Title: The Girl in the Mango Tree
Author: Richard Capwell
Major Themes: Panama, Panama Canal, Jungles, Friendship
Synopsis: When Kane found a girl living in a tree in the jungle, by herself, he had no idea that she would change his whole life.
Apparently, The Girl in the Mango Tree was offered free as a Kindle book some six years ago. That’s when Amazon says I bought it, anyway! I happened to open it a week or two ago and read it—and really enjoyed it! It was quite an unusual story, set in a place that I’ve never read about before.
Kane and his six brothers and sisters were shocked when they arrived in the Panama Canal Zone to live for a few years. Everything was different from California! How could they manage to survive the heat and humidity? Kane, as usual, escaped into his books—until the day he found a girl living in a mango tree behind the playground!
Flora, an Indian girl, was hiding away from her problems, living in the jungle. Kane soon learned to enjoy being with her, and they spent a lot of time together. Would she ever tell him why she was there, though? And what could he do to help her? This is a great story of friendship.
I really found this story intriguing. It is set in 1976 in Panama, and really made me feel like I was there, with the heat and humidity, the howler monkeys and the trees of fruit growing in the jungle. The large family dynamics are realistic, too, although the oldest sister’s attitudes left something to be desired. She acted like a typical American teenager, and spent the night with her boyfriend at least once (nothing else is said about that). I learned a lot about the native Indians of the area, and enjoyed a glimpse at the Panama Canal when the family visited it.
WARNING: I forgot to take notes, but there are some attitudes and a bit of language like “Oh my God.”
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15