Here Comes Rhinoceros
by Heinz Janisch
illustrated by Helga Bansch
translated and edited by Evan Jones
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2018
ISBN 978-1-55455-448-5 $18.95 (hc), 32 pp, ages 5 – 9
Using animals in their habitats and their relationships within their environments is a great way to hook young children into developing empathy for self, others, and the environment. Here Comes Rhinoceros relates the feelings, interpretation of the world, and coming to understanding of a singular rhinoceros as it struggles to understand and accept its identity through its feelings and relationships with others. As rhinoceros ponders its role in the family of animals, perhaps “elephant” has the wisest line in the story when it states “As it should be” when other animals tell rhinoceros of the important role it plays in protecting them. The drawings in this colourful picture book enhance and clarify the story as it describes the rhinoceros’ feelings. When it states, “I wish I was like that snowflake” with regard to a bird, two pages are dedicated to drawings of rhinoceros in various forms of flight, with wings and balloons.
Classroom Connections: Here Comes Rhinoceros has many uses in the classroom. In addition to the discussion of empathy, acceptance, and animal rights, there is a rich use of metaphor and simile which can be chosen to describe some of the elements of meaning and writing. I found this story to be most useful when I had my grade three students act the parts in drama. In role the children were able to explore and enhance their own understandings of kindness toward others, both animal and human. A multi-faceted book, Here Comes Rhinoceros is, in my opinion, a “must-have” for the integrated arts program of any primary or early junior classroom.
Review by Kent Miller.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2019 issue.