Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge (illustrator)
Published by Walker Books
RRP: $24.99 (AUD)

A small rhinoceros dreams of travelling far and wide. She makes a boat and embarks on her adventure to faraway lands. The older, and bigger rhinoceroses warn her of the dangers, but she goes anyway. On her return she meets an even smaller rhinoceros with the same dreams.

This short synopsis outlines only the plot. The language used, both verbal and visual, make this picturebook an absolute delight. The small rhinoceros is so keen for adventure that any comment from others only encourages her. The visual text shows her preparing for her adventure with the help of the others. They do not know they are helping though, as they are too busy telling small rhinoceros why she cannot go. They appear to be ignorant of what is happening around them. The visual text is so integral to the narrative that the viewer, and the small rhinoceros, know just how helpful the larger rhinoceroses are when they are trying to deter her from her adventures.

The illustrations work beautifully with the written text, coming together in true picture book form. Leila Rudge, one of my favourite illustrators, has used mixed media, including watercolour, coloured pencil and collage. There is so much to this book, as is the case with the wonderful No Bears from this duo. The rhinoceroses have everything they need, mud, grass and trees, and the small rhinoceros does find these while she is away, but in many different forms as expressed in the illustrations. Colour, texture and direction have been used to full effect, directing and influencing the viewer’s eye.

This creation sums up why travel is loved and embarked upon by many. I expect this book will spark the adventurer and travel bug in many young readers.

Perfect for school and public libraries, this book would also make a beautiful gift for a young one.

Many thanks to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.