Here Comes Rhinoceros / Kommt das Nashorn by H. Janisch
Janisch, Heinz. Here Comes Rhinoceros / Kommt das Nashorn. Illustrated by Helga Bansch. Translated and edited by Evan Jones, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2018.
This picture book is a paean to solidity. Its central character, Rhinoceros, is as “beautiful as a mountain.” He “holds his ground,” stands “silent in the storm.” Though he does voice a wish to be as free as the tiny white bird who is his friend (his “chirping snowflake”) he also realizes that many creatures appreciate his stalwart, earthbound presence; they need him “to stand on,” “to rest on.”
Heinz Janisch, the author of this charming narrative, has won the Austrian State Prize for Poetry, as well as that nation’s Children’s Literature Prize. The poetic quality of his writing style is effectively conveyed in Evan Jones’ translation. Helga Bansch’s illustrations are a perfect match for the text. She draws quite expertly; her rhinoceros, elephant, giraffe, zebra, and deer are appropriate in detail and in proportion to one another. In an inventive and humorous vein, she lets us see the tiny white bird being blown “right off the page” by the storm. Though all of her work has an endearing quality, the little meerkat with his red umbrella is, in particular, a heart-stealer.
The story line of this picture book is very suitable for both preschool and primary school aged children. Janisch’s vocabulary, syntax, and use of metaphor, however, suggest the need for adult assistance—at least initially—if children are to fully comprehend and appreciate the beauty of the text. A child enjoying the book as a bedtime story would pore over the illustrations; those illustrations would, as well, be perfectly large and clear enough for small group presentation in a classroom or library. In sum, Here Comes Rhinoceros is an excellent choice for home, school, and public libraries.
Reviewer: Leslie Aitken
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship included selection of children’s literature for school, public, special, and academic libraries. She is a former Curriculum Librarian of the University of Alberta.
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