Over the last few weeks the children in my school library have been talking about Gary by Leila Rudge - short listed for our 2017 CBCA award and an Honour Book. We even have a little knitted Gary in our library so I was excited to see a new book illustrated by Leila.
Once upon a small Rhinoceros follows a well established story line of following your dream just like little Gary. Take the time to re-visit Louise the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, Daisy by Brian Wildsmith, The snail and the whale by Julia Donaldson, The trip to Panama by Janosch and Wendy by Gus Gordon.
Our small rhinoceros wants to see the world. She has seen boats sailing down the river with their sounds, sights and smells of faraway lands.The other rhinos are all contented with life in the mud by the river but small rhinoceros has dreams. She is warned of all the dangers but she sets off anyway.
"It's dangerous! You'll get lost!"
"Perhaps," said the small rhinoceros.
I love the power of that one word 'perhaps'. When the small rhinoceros returns the others ask questions and she explains that yes it was strange and scary but one tiny voice asks :
"Was it wonderful?"
This is a gentle book with soft illustrations perfect to read aloud and offering plenty of scope for discussion over the final scenes. Since this book is brand new and Australian I will once again predict we have another book that surely will make the CBCA short list for 2018.
We do not find out the name of the small rhino but you might like to read Meg McKinlay's thoughts here about her gender.