"The Roly-Poly Bird" is a
fictional character, that, like the Vermicious knidsand Muggle-Wumpthe monkeyis made reference to in more than one child's book by Roald Dahl- in two cases alongside Muggle-Wump. He is described as large, with fantastically coloured tailfeathers, and in Quentin Blake's illustrations has a blue body and a crest on his head- rather like a peacock. He is known to have made his nest in an orange tree at least once and his favourite food are berries. He may or may not be magical, can speak in at least two languages, Afrikaansand English (he says it is no use travelling from one country to another- as he sometimes does when on holiday- without learning the language of the people who live there) and obviously has intelligence at least equal to that of a monkey- and if that monkey is Muggle-Wump then that is quite considerable. In all three of his appearances, he is a sign of light relief to the reader- and, more so, some of the stories' characters. The Enormous Crocodile
In this story the Roly-Poly Bird is a minor but important character to the overall tale. It is only in this story that we see him in his native land and
jungle, and also here that we see him in his orange-tree, praising his love of berries. The Crocodile of the story boasts with many characters that he is venturing into the nearby village to eat little children, and attacks two others besides the Roly-Poly Bird, but the Roly-Poly Bird is the only one that he does not even leave to tell him that eating children is a wicked act before rearing up and snapping at him- pulling out some of his tailfeathers in the process. However, the Enormous Crocodile soon realises his mistake when the Roly-Poly Bird flies after him and shouts out a warning just when he is about to catch a little girl and so deprive him of a meal. The Twits
The Roly-Poly bird here appears alongside Muggle-Wump in giving Mr and Mrs Twit a taste of their own medicine. Muggle-Wump and his family have been forced, on pain of
corporal punishment, to stand on their heads for hours on end to remind them of their status as former circus animals that Mr Twit used to train. Birds, likewise, are an object of cruelty as far as the Twits were concerned, because they are caught in the glue-smeared branches of a tree in the Twit's garden and then placed in bird pie. However, the Roly-Poly Bird arrives and, through his knowledge of languages, can translate the Muggle-Wumps' cries of warning and so deters the birds from sitting in the tree. He is also, narrowly, prevented in turn, from getting stuck to the monkeys' cage when Mr Twit changes his tactics. When the Twits leave, insenced, to buy guns as a last resort to catch their food, he and the Muggle-Wumps use glue for their own purposes to give the Twits a lesson of their own teaching- which works to great effect. The Roly-Poly Bird then carries the Muggle-Wumps home to their native Africa. Dirty Beasts
The Roly-Poly Bird in this story is possibly not the same one as appears in "
The Twits" and " The Enormous Crocodile" if only because in the rhyming story he appears in- "The Toad and The Snail"- the two characters of the title's name is the same creature, magically transformed from one to the other after the giant Toad jumps with a small boy on his back into France, turns into the Snail to escape from the amphibian-hungry Frenchmen and thus into the Roly-Poly Bird so that he can fly away with the boy back to England when the Frenchmen also express interest in eating the snail. Nevertheless, even here, he is shown as a creature that "saves the day".
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