On World Rhino Day (22 September) I’d like to celebrate two beautiful books, Evie and the Rhino by Neridah McMullin and Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay (illustrated by Leila Rudge). Both stories are heartwarming and quirky, a bit like rhinoceros. Rhino are herbivores that shape their landscapes (keystone species), and these lovely titles will shape your inner landscapes and imagination.
Neridah’s novel is inspired by an historical event. In 1891 the Steamship Bancoora ran aground on the rugged Victorian coast. Onboard were animals bound for the Melbourne Zoo, including a rhinoceros. Neridah says, There’s something about rhinoceros I find fascinating. They’re such a contradiction, monstrously huge with warm brown eyes, fringed by long eyelashes. They have big wobbly bottoms and a jaunty little trot. So true!
Meg’s brave little rhinoceros is also a boat traveler.
“Don’t you wish,” said the small rhinoceros, “that you could see the world?” She builds a boat and sets off on an adventure; a whimsical and resilient sailor.
Both books celebrate wildness and the natural world.
Rhinoceros are delightfully absurd. They’re such a fun contradiction, with their huge strong bodies and short speedy legs. In literature, they seem to represent courage and unusual possibilities. Here’s to all the rhinoceros stories on World Rhino Day.
Fun Fact: rhinoceros are relatively solitary animals but the collective noun for a group of them is ‘a crash’.