My Rumpus Letter for Kids


What season is it where you are?

It’s mango season in Antigua where I live. I’ve got one in my mouth as I type this. Because here in the sun-blessed Caribbean we tear in to the orange mango with our teeth until nothing’s left but the whitened seed. E bang good (translation: it tastes so, so good).


Still from the mango eating contest during the Mango Festival (yes, we have a festival dedicated to the mango) in Antigua in the summer, mango season. (source: uncertain; shared purely for educational purposes. No profit made. No copyright infringement intended).

Seriously, there’s no such thing as a bad mango. Too soft, too hard, it’s all just right. Unless it’s picked too soon, in which case you have to set it; setting means sticking the not-quite-ripe mango in a brown paper bag and literally setting it aside until it ripens.  Why do we sometimes pick it before it has fully ripened? Well, the birds, the dogs, the mongoose, and the lizards might get them before we do. They love mangoes too. And can you blame them?

Bananas, oranges, they’re all good but the mango is, as we say in Antigua, sweet bad – that means very sweet. Though, like anything, it can also be bad for you if you eat too much…and the mango does tempt you to do that.

We love the mango so much, we even have a mango festival, with ice cream and mango eating contests, in the summer. The only summer festival bigger than that is Carnival and Carnival is pretty epic – costumes and music and parades and fireworks.

With Grace

A moment from the two day parade and mas showcase held during Antigua’s Carnival, in which some friends and I (as Grace’s Merrymakers) adapted and played the mango tree faerie from my children’s picture book, With Grace (2017).

Why am I writing about mangoes?   Ah, mangoes…because I wanted to share one of my favourite things. There is no best fruit, of course; they’re all good. *whispers ‘but mangoes are better’* I write about mangoes because I love them, maybe more than I should. I even have a poem about the mango and a book in which a girl sings to a mango tree and, unbeknownst to her, a fairy that lives there. Here it is:posing With Grace 5


See how pretty the mangoes are? Bet they taste good too.

*waving from Antigua* ~ Joanne


This letter was The Rumpus’ September 2017 Letter for Kids (I think it’s safe to share it here now). I wanted to make it fun for the kids and tie-in with the book, mangoes made sense. None of these pictures were used in The Rumpus letter.

ABOUT The Rumpus’ Letter for Kids: The has been sending letters from authors to kids around the world since 2012. I found out about this through one of the social media writers’ networks I belong to and pitched. The letters can be any thing – handwritten, typed, with hand drawings, doodles, photos, or without; as long as they are a personal note from the author to the children in the Rumpus’ mailing network. Thanks to them for scheduling this author from Ottos, Antigua in the series.

ABOUT With Grace: With Grace is a fairytale filled with magic, enchantment, and lots of heart.  Also mangoes, lots of mangoes. And a mango tree faerie.

ABOUT Grace’s Merrymakers: a micro troupe with a couple of my friends designed and built by my friends, inspired by and interpreting the mango tree faerie in With Grace, my children’s picture book. The troupe participated in Antigua’s Carnival parade in early August.

ABOUT the author: Joanne C. Hillhouse is an avowed mango lover. Carnival lover. book lover. Isn’t it lovely when those things intersect? She writes books and she cuts her own free.lancing path.

Links to research papers about my work, articles, reviews, interviews, reports, guest posts, shout-outs, and extras like this can be found in the Media room.


4 thoughts on “My Rumpus Letter for Kids

  1. It’s ok to say it: mangoes are the best fruit. Mangoes bring joy and comfort where apples, bananas, pineapples, etc fail. I’m not ashamed to say I suffer from mild depression every mango season since I left Antigua and came to this mangoless land. Happiness is eating a ripe mango; bliss is knowing you have a bucket load waiting for you when that one is done.

  2. Dear Joanne,

    I’m not sure you’ll remember me from Surinam and I don’t remember whether you can read French or not but I can’t resist sharing this by Dany Laferrière from Haiti and Paris:

    L’art de manger une mangue

    On suppose que vous vous trouvez à ce moment-là quelque part au sud de la vie. Il faut attendre alors un midi de juillet quand la chaleur devient insupportable. Une cuvette blanche remplie d’eau fraîche sur une petite table bancale, sous un manguier. Vous arrivez en sueur d’une demi-journée agitée pour vous asseoir à l’ombre, sans rien dire pendant un long moment, jusqu’à ce que votre sieste soit interrompue par le bruit sourd d’une mangue qui vient de tomber près de votre pied. Il faut la respirer longuement avant de la dévorer pour qu’il ne reste plus une once de chair ni non plus une goutte de jus. Puis vous vous lavez le visage et le torse dans la cuvette d’eau avant de retourner à votre chaise. La mangue de midi est la grâce du jour.

    If I try to translate the last line, “Noon’s mango is the day’s grace” it seems to echo your thoughts.

    Happy New Year! Victoria

    Envoyé de mon iPhone


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