Being afraid of trying the new and unknown is quite understandable since it requires a leap of faith of sorts. Even adults, much less children, sometimes need a lot of encouragement — and perhaps some company — before they feel confident enough to venture into uncharted territory.
Thus, it’s easy for children to relate to the eponymous protagonist in Roly Poly Pangolin, who is easily intimidated by unfamiliar things.
The interesting thing is, when a pangolin feels threatened, it will roll itself up into a tight ball, with the hard keratin scales on its body facing out for protection. In fact, the name ‘pangolin’ comes from a Malay word ‘pengguling’, which means ‘something that rolls up’ — and, that is exactly what Roly Poly Pangolin does… until he meets someone else who understands exactly how he feels and helps him to come out of his shell.
This is a great book that encourages children to attempt something new, and highlights the value of friendship. Unlike Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series, however, this is a standalone book — featuring a very different protagonist, no less. However, Llama Llama fans will be happy to know that her very enjoyable rhyming style is also wonderfully demonstrated in this book, together with her distinctive and striking artwork. I particularly love that the author has chosen an endangered animal that is rarely seen nor read about to star in a children’s book; and, not only that, but she has crafted an enjoyable book with beautifully detailed illustrations that skilfully incorporate the pangolin’s unique physical and behavioral traits — so much so that by the end of the book, the reader will have a pretty good basic understanding of this unique species.
Portions of the proceeds of this book also go to the pangolin conservation program at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam. Bravo!