#1216 – ROLY POLY by Mem Fox & Jane Dyer


Written by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Beach Lane Books 11/5/2019
32 Pages   Ages 4—8

Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes:  New Sibling, Acceptance, Sibling Rivalry



Roly Poly the polar bear loves being an only child. His bed is only his. The fish he catches are only his. And he doesn’t have to share his toy walrus tooth with anyone. But then along comes baby Monty.

Roly Poly did not ask for a little brother and he certainly does not want one now! What is Roly Poly to do when Monty starts making him share his bed and fish and walrus tooth? (from press release)

Opening Lines

Once upon a time, way up near the top of the world, there lived a polar bear named Roly Poly. He had a father and a mother, but no sister or brother.

Why I like this book

Roly Poly is a happy polar bear, getting both his parent’s attention. Roly Poly is an only polar bear and didn’t need to learn to share anything. Then one day, he awoke to find a smaller polar bear (Monty), in his bed. Before he stormed off, Roly Poly exclaimed,

“A little brother? But I never asked for a little brother, and I don’t want one now.”

When Monty tried to play with his older brother, Roly Poly gave the same response. And when Monty played with Roly Poly’s toy whale tooth or grabbed the fish he just caught, Roly Poly said,

“Hey, don’t do that! I never asked for a little brother, and I certainly don’t want one now.”

Roly Poly liked to pretend he could not hear, and did just that as part of the ice broke away, taking Monty with it. Would Roly Poly keep pretending he could not hear as Monty yelled for help?

Roly Poly is a cute story with wonderful illustrations (actually photographs). Young children will soon exclaim with Roly, “Hey, don’t do that!” The repetition of Roly Poly’s animosity toward a new sibling will help kids learn to read, as they recognize the words while speaking with Roly Poly.

The name “Roly Poly” is perfectly poetic for this character. Baby brother “Monty’s” name doesn’t have the same oomph to it, but he is adorable and acts like a younger sibling (crawling on and wrestling with Roly Poly, and taking his brother’s things as his own). Children with younger sibling(s) will recognize this behavior and commiserate with Roly Poly. But in the end, when the younger sibling gets in trouble, the older one always comes to the rescue. It is what siblings do, and Roly Poly is no exception.

I don’t think parents will mind the repetitious readings their child will demand. The illustrations are unique to children’s books (at least to this point in time). Children’s attention will be drawn to these beautiful bears. Roly Poly makes a wonderful gift for anyone expecting a second, third, . . . tenth child. What is better than a polar bear to teach children about love and acceptance of a new sibling? I hope Roly Poly and Monty return, maybe with a new sister to terrorize the boys.

Favorite Lines

Monty crept up behind Roly Poly and snatched
the walrus tooth right out of his paws.

“Get lost!” yelled Roly Poly.
“Get lost right now!”

Illustrations:  The illustrations are very interesting (e.g. amazingly cool). Using wool donated by (author) Mem Fox’s sheep (a Fox owns sheep?), then, according to artist Jane Dyer:

“The polar bears in this book were made by needle felting, which is a process of stabbing wool with a barbed needle in order to change the density of the fibers. I began with a wire armature, wrapped my wool around it, continuously ‘stabbing,’ while I added more wool in order to sculpt each bear. The polar bear house was made with chicken wire and papier mậché covered in velvet. Jeanne Birdsall and I set up the scenes, and she photographed them.”

Available at Amazon

ROLY POLY. Text Copyright © 2019 by Mem Fox. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Jane Dyer. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York, NY.


Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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