New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017
Anna Merz, a wildlife conservationist, thought she was retiring to Kenya – she half right. When she arrived in Kenya, it was to discover that poachers were killing rhinos for their horns and set about establishing a preserve for the endgangered animals. One day Anna found a small calf whose mother wasn’t caring for it, and knew it would not survive without help. So she took the calf home, and named it Samia. This is their sweet story.
Rhino in the House is thoughtful and fun, and author/illustrator Daniel Kirk manages to make a baby rhino adorable, but still realistic. That doesn’t seem easy. Throughout, this book is a stright-forward, yet simply and gently told account of an extraordinary friendship. The charming illustrations show Anna reading to Samia in bed, Samia eating a hat and trampling the garden, and the two of them enjoying walks together. Kids will laugh at the antics, and those who care for pets at home may relate to the effort it would take to care for a rhino and teach it how to survive.
While the illustrations themselves are just lovely, there’s more. The photographs in the Author’s Note section include wonderful scenes from the author’s trip to Kenya, Anna’s home there, and a gem of a photo of Anna and Samia. Also included are maps, and a bibliography. Rhino in the House would make a fine addition to any elementary school collection and would be appreciated by independent readers and story-time participants, alike.
Dewey: 599.66 Interest Level: PreK-3
Reviews and Awards: Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly Annex, School Library Journal.
Upper elementary students might like: Animal Scientist and Activist Jane Goodall by Douglas Hustad.
Middle school students might like: Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish are Saving the World’s Largest Rainforest(Scientists in the Field) by Sy Montgomery. Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen.
Young adults might like: Rhino at the Brink of Extinction by Anna Merz.
On the Web:
Want to really amp up the cute factor? Here is a video of a two-week old rhino born in 2016 in a German zoo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecqVuo99jfw.
LEWA Wildlife Conservancy: A Unesco World heritge Site since 2013. Learn more about the rhinos and other wildlife that live at LEWA.