Everyone remembers the magic of having your parent or teacher read you a story when you were a kid, whether it was a long, rambling fairy tale, or a short and delightful rhyming story with lots of bright colourful pictures.
All stories are exciting for young kids. But for those of a older generation, there weren’t any books that told Zimbabwean stories, or that showed the brightly coloured landscape, people or animals that we all know and loved. Until now.
What on Earth is That? is one of a new wave of Zimbabwe children’s books that explore the unique wonder of the Zimbabwean wilderness. Written by Sarah Savory with watercolour artwork by Frédéric Baele, it highlights a largely unknown mammal, the pangolin. The pangolin is the world’s most trafficked animal and yet ask people about these mysterious creatures and chances are they have never seen or heard of them, or even know what they look like.
The book begins in that vein, with a little boy who finds a pangolin and goes on a quest to discover what it is. The boy and a friend go and ask a succession of familiar wild animals (an elephant, a rhino, etc.) about the pangolin. In the process, the animals reveal characteristics about themselves as well as the pangolin and the two kids learn a lot as they unravel the identity of their mystery creature.
When asked about her inspiration for the book, Savory says, “I just got sick and tired of people not knowing what a pangolin was. My dad is an ecologist so I have always been involved in conservation.” Savory is a single mum of two, and a post-operative rehab therapist. But her passion for the pangolin – this book and the interest it has generated – has led her to focus on raising pangolin awareness full time. What on Earth is That? is ideal for ages 2 to 12, and will interest kids who love animals and want to learn more about them.
Available from: Patrick Mavros, Kiki’s, Nguni and Ngwenya, Folios, Caboodle, The Picture Frame, Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary, from the author directly, and on Amazon.com.
More information at www.sarahsavory.com
Image: A children’s book that gradually reveals the identity of the pangolin.