Archive | April 2013

Pangolin Poetry

Ode to the Pangolin

Photo by Rusian Rugoals; CC License

Photo by Rusian Rugoals; CC License


Oh Pangolin, dear Pangolin

Your name sings like a mandolin

Alas, I cannot play your scales

They’re hard as rock and sharp as nails


When threatened by a toothy beast

Intent on making you a feast

You simply stop and drop and roll

And turn into a scaly bowl


Dear trusty crusty Pangolin

Photo: animal

Photo: animal

With toothless mouth and tongue so thin

You lap up ants from hill and tree

Hunting for grub nocturnally


You hardly ever make a sound

While waddling across the ground

With tail down and front claws curled

You make your way across the world

– Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud


Beloved Pangolins

Pangolin. It sounds like an exotic musical instrument, but it means “something that rolls up” in the Malay language. This amazing critter lives in Asia and Africa and also goes by the name of “scaly anteater,” but pangolin sounds much nicer, I think.

A pangolin is a mammal which is covered with large scales that are made of keratin, the same material that makes fingernails hard. When in danger, a pangolin can curl up into a tight ball, making it look a bit like a giant, round pine cone. Its hard, sharp scales make it difficult for a hungry lion, for example, to make a meal of the creature. Their impressive scales do not protect them from human hunters, however. They are hunted for their meat and their scales and they are now on the list of endangered animals.

Lion attempts to crack the armor

Lion attempts to crack the armor

Most pangolins are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. Their eyesight is dim, but they have sensitive noses to sniff out tasty insects. Some hang from their prehensile tails in the trees while they strip away bark to find bugs. Pangolins have long claws to help them climb trees and to help them dig up ant and termite nests. Their long, sticky tongues are ant magnets. They can slurp up thousands of ants in one night. They have no teeth for chewing up those ants. The ants are chewed up in the pangolin’s gizzard-like tummy which sometimes contains tiny rocks or sand to help grind the food.


Pangolin babies are only about 6 inches long at birth and weigh about one pound. The mother will nurse her baby for about 4 months. It rides on her tail when they go out of their den, and if the pangolins encounter danger, the mother will cover her baby with her body and roll up tight for protection.


A pangolin is a ball of adorableness. I can’t help but fall in love with this amazing critter. It has a unique way of walking using its hind legs while curling its front claws under and out of the way. Watch the pangolin’s amazing moves:

World’s Weirdest; Pangolin

What do you think of the pangolin? What is the pangolin’s most amazing feature?

This entry was posted on April 25, 2013. 2 Comments

First Author Visit Ever!

In the spring of 2013, at the invitation of Waseda International School’s Paramita Basu, I embarked upon my first author visit ever. My presentation was split into two sessions. The first session was attended by a bouncy contingency of thirty-eight preschoolers. The second session was attended by the elementary students ranging in ages from 6 to 12. Besides packing my MacBook with Keynote presentation, my iPad with digital book loaded, I also brought along… (to help me weather all 45 minutes with the preschool set)… a sack full of puppets for the youngest students to play with and try out.

Meeting Baabara

Meeting Baabara

Waseda International School is located in downtown Tokyo, close to Shinjuku. I was met at Takadanobaba station and we walked uphill to the school where we got set up in the lively and welcoming preschool room. Somehow, all of the wiggly three to five year olds were gathered onto a corner rug where they sang a song about the parts of a flower with their teacher who had a beautiful voice.

The children got to meet Baaabara, the library lamb, who enjoyed meeting all of the children even though she didn’t manage to learn all thirty-eight names. Blame it on those very fuzzy, but adorable ears. While Baaabara took a little nap in the puppet bag, the WIS preschoolers enjoyed “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts,” which was projected from the iPad onto the large screen at the front of the room. BoBAuthorVisit2

As soon as the children realized that there was a dragon hidden in many of the illustrations, as soon as the digital page was turned, there was no continuing with the story until the dragon was found. The ability to zoom in on the details of the illustrations helped to hone in on the hidden dragon, much to the delight of the kids.

The older group enjoyed a Keynote presentation about the importance of reading… and the importance of knowing when and where to read. Reading with friends, reading with dogs, reading in trees… all good. Reading while driving, reading while pig wrestling, reading with a crocodile… not so good. The older students also got to see the entire “Princess Ramona” book and enjoyed the rhyming text of the story and the built-in dictionary. We stopped at various words to study the meaning which was especially helpful for the second-language learners.  A “lummox,” we discovered, is a clumsy, stupid person. They were happy to see that the lummox knight turns out to be a helpful and reasonable sort in the end.  You!ScreenShot

I was honored to be invited to Waseda International School to present “Ramona” to their delightful students. Special thanks to Paramita for the invitation and for arranging all of the many details! After such a positive experience and enthusiastic student response, I look forward to my next author visit.