MG – Operation Pangolin: Saving the World’s Only Scaled Mammal

Eszterhas, Suzi. Operation Pangolin: Saving the World’s Only Scaled Mammal. Millbrook Press, 2022. 40 p. $23.04. 978-1-728-44295-2. Grades 5-8. 

Pangolins are an endangered species, and they couldn’t ask for a better book than Operation Pangolin to entice humans to ensure their survival. Wildlife photographer Eszterhas uses photographs liberally on wide pages, sure to elicit “oohs and aahs,” as well as “awws” for amazing baby pangolin photos.  Eszterhas begins by focusing on the story of conservationist Thai Van Nguyen, who recalls the day as a child when he saw a pangolin and her baby being captured by poachers (likely for their scales, which are mistakenly believed to have medicinal properties), and how he vowed to “save all the pangolins in the world” (5). He now runs the world’s largest pangolin rescue operation, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. He and his staff rescue and treat injured pangolins, and Thai frequently speaks about and introduces pangolins to humans. The small numbers of pangolins and their shyness means that scientists still have many questions about their life habits, such as life span, mating habits, and duration of pregnancy. Researchers do know that pangolins have poor eyesight and a strong sense of smell; they have special muscles to close their ears and nostrils (in addition to eyes) while eating ants; their sticky tongues can be longer than their bodies; and they swallow sand and small stones to aid digestion. The photos are the focus of this book. Readers see pangolins curled into balls, eating ants, using their fingers to dig or hold onto branches, undergoing medical exams by Thai’s staff, and babies feeding and riding on their mothers’ backs. The remarkably close and clear photos, even of their scales, gives a sense of wonder and understanding of these creatures. 

THOUGHTS: This book is a winner for upper elementary and above, with facts and photographs to enthrall readers and urge them to help.  Don’t miss other recent amazing animal books by Eszterhas, including A Leopard Diary (2022) and The Adventures of Dr. Sloth (2022).

599.3 Pangolins          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – Asian Animals (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Asian Animals. Abdo, 2021. $20.95 ea. $125.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-2. 

Bengal Tiger. 978-1-0982-0592-8.
Giant Panda. 978-1-0982-0593-5.
Great Hornbill. 978-1-0982-0594-2.
Indian Cobra. 978-1-0982-0595-9.
Pangolin. 978-1-0982-0596-6.
Water Buffalo. 978-1-0982-0597-3. 

The continent of Asia is home to many amazing and unique animals, six of which are featured in this new series for early readers from Abdo. Each oversize volume informs readers about the habitat, characteristics, and lifestyle of the spotlighted animal. This reviewer had the opportunity to read the volume on Giant Pandas. Each two-page spread of the volume featured a high-quality photo accompanied by corresponding text. Readers learn about the habitat of the giant panda, it’s diet of bamboo, how young are raised, and more. As with most Abdo titles, a code in the back of the book allows readers to access supplemental material (video, activities, and more) online.

THOUGHTS: This series is sure to hold appeal for primary readers. The oversize high-quality photos will be sure to engage the interest of even the casual animal fan. For libraries looking to expand their animal collections, this series featuring both common (tiger, panda) and unique (pangolin, water buffalo) animals merits consideration.

590s Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Pangolina

Goodall, Jane. Pangolina. Minedition. 2021. 978-1-6626-5040-6. $17.99. Gr. K-4.

Pangolina grew up with a loving mother that took care of her everyday. As Pangolina grows older, her mother takes her out to explore the world, showing her all of the things she needs to know to eat and be safe. Pangolina is curious, learning about the different animals around her, even the humans that can sometimes be scary. As Pangolina grows even older, mother tells her it is time to leave so that she can find a mate and have her own baby. One night as Pangolina sleeps in her burrow, a scary man grabs her and puts her into a cloth bag. She is put into a cage where there are other scared and crying animals. Pangolina is about to be sold away, when a young child from the village saves her, as it is illegal to hunt and sell pangolins. Pangolina is sent to a sanctuary where she is safe, able to be with other pangolins, and be cared for.

THOUGHTS: A beautiful book about pangolins, an interesting animal, as it is the only mammal with scales. Pangolins are endangered and are a protected species. This book provides a heartwarming and suspenseful story about a pangolin, all the while providing information about this unique animal. The back of the book contains more information and resources to learn more about pangolins.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD