Jeanne Willis started writing very early, making a story book at age five, stitched together like a proper book. She was 21 when she was first published and has now written over 400 books.
In contrast, Peter Jarvis has illustrated only two children’s books for Nosy Crow, but his quirky style will no doubt bring further commissions. The illustrations have the look of collages with both ragged edges and sharp cut outs sitting well on the bright, solid coloured and unfussy backgrounds.
The bouncy rhyming tale is about a young rhinoceros who won’t listen to anyone, bosses other animals around, and is generally rude and obnoxious – sounding just like a toddler having a tantrum. After he is rude to all the other animals, even to the extent of squashing the baboon’s banana and so getting none at all when the baboon won’t share with him, the Pygmy Mouse still tries to save Rhino from himself.
Rhino is selfishly stuffing himself with mangoes, having told everyone else they are all his, and won’t listen when Pygmy Mouse warns him about a stampede. Of course he gets his comeuppance when the mango tree is destroyed by the herd of wilderbeast, showing Rhino he is not in charge of everything. Having learned his lesson Rhino ‘…put himself in charge of being very, very good’ (last page). If only it were so in real life!
As an adult reader I found the use of a bold, larger font on certain words and phrases distracting as I could see no consistency in its use but I’m sure it won’t bother the younger reader/listener. It’s the ideal length for a bedtime story and the pictures would certainly be appealing to youngsters.
Reviewed by: Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 7
Released by: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: January 2017
RRP: $24.99 hardcover