Jimmy Barnes (text) and Matt Shanks (illustrator), Rosie the Rhinoceros, HarperCollins Publishers, September 2021, 32 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781460758854
Jimmy Barnes and Matt Shanks introduce us to the joyful, gracious, and confident character of Rosie who reminds us of the power of a positive perspective and enduring self-belief.
Rosie, ‘the rhinoceros’ is absolutely happy, as she awakens to a new day, she excitedly greets her animal friends with a passionate appreciation for the world around her; did you see that glorious sunrise?, isn’t it a stupendous day?, isn’t this morning exquisite? The only thing she doesn’t quite understand is why her friends in the savannah insist on calling her a rhinoceros, she is quite clearly a unicorn! She will have to help them understand who she really is.
The text is conversational and would make for a fun reading to pre-readers and beginning readers. For more confident readers, it has an appropriate level of challenge and with the inclusion of plenty of descriptive words would also help to expand vocabularies. The story moves along at a lively pace, enthusiasm and excitement injected throughout, with key words in coloured and enlarged fonts.
Matt Shanks’s bold, simple, and expressive illustrations convey a lovely personality to the animal characters. The restricted watercolour palette of soft pinks, purples and browns perfectly captures the soft light of the morning and complements the overall sense of lightness and childlike delight this book exudes.
Rosie the Rhinoceros is a story that captures that invaluable effervescence and belief of a child without limits, an encouraging message for adults and children alike. Recommended for ages 3-8 years.
Reviewed by Julie Bertola