I remember reading a story book on Si Tanggang when I was nine. Picked that thin flimsy book from the library and it was illustrated with ink drawings, in full colour. It was special because it made me realise that Si Tanggang is most likely an Orang Asli folktale.
And why is this memory of mine even significant in this review? I think because of my experience with that book, I have been mildly interested in local folktales. It was what compelled me to pick up this particular book from Kinokuniya.
I am halfway through this, and I feel like I need to put my thoughts down in black and white. This particular book features many animal stories, probably spun by the Orang Asli to explain the natural behaviours of the animals in the jungles. How did the tapir get his white stripe? Questions like this are answered in this book. I have also learnt a few animals (eg. tikus bulan, lotong) and their names. Besides the folktales, writer also provides a brief factual overview on every animal mentioned in the tales. It is also accompanied by illustrations done by a local artist. From my point of view, the art is inky and messy but somehow quite endearing.
I feel Malaysians are not exposed to local folktales, as opposed to Brothers Grimm and Disney fare. Our land and peoples are rich in culture, which could be preserved in the manner of songs and stories. These traditions are what binds us to the land we live in, giving us a sense of connection to the land as well as each other.
Every school library should have this book. It might not have a huge impact on its readers, but it would definitely open their minds to the richness in oral traditions that our country can offer.