The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm

Rhino9780990539506_p0_v2_s260x420The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm

LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo, Authors

Courtenay Fletcher, Illustrator

Reading Rainbow, Fiction, Oct. 7, 2014

Themes: Comforting a child after a tragedy, Dealing with emotions and feelings

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Opening: “In the middle of the morning, Mica Mouse trembled under her blanket. A storm boomed outside her window. Rain crashed against the glass. Wind rattled the shutters.”  

Synopsis: Mica mouse is afraid of storms because she lost her home the year before to a powerful hurricane.  Papa reassures Mica that they are safe and the storm will soon pass. To calm Mica, Papa reads her a story about a little Rhinoceros who lives happy and carefree until one day a raging storm destroys everything around him. Angry, he opens his jaws and swallows the storm.  He digs himself into a deep hole until some friends pull him out. Swallowing the storm makes him feel awful, so the little Rhino sets out on a journey to heal himself. Along the way he meets wise animal friends who guide him.

Why I like this book: Sometimes scary things happen to children and they don’t know how to cope. LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo have co-authored this powerful and compelling story that will help children deal with tragic events in their lives. The book  is really two stories in one. The opening is written in prose. And, I detect Bernardo’s beautiful and lifting rhyme in the little Rhino’s story. I love the metaphor of the storm and the Rhino burying his feelings until his friends encourage him to let them go. Even the typeset words and lines have movement that mirror the action. Courtenay Fletcher’s stunning and colorful  illustrations take the reader on a visual journey through the darkest moments of death and destruction of the ravine, the Rhino’s loneliness and despair, to his steps towards healing and making new friendships. This picture book is a beautiful collaboration between the authors and illustrator. It is a book I would recommend parents add to their book shelves because it can be used for many different situations to comfort a frightened child.

Resources: At the end of the book is a discussion section with eight great questions that help children and parents take a deeper look inside the story. The discussion encourages children to share their feelings and explore how they handle difficult times. This book is also a good resource for teachers and counselors.

LeVar Burton: Actor, director, and educator LeVar Burton has been an icon for more than 35 years. It’s his 31 years as host, producer, and now co-owner of Reading Rainbow that have given Burton his greatest impact, delivering the message of the importance of literacy and reading to generations of children.

Co-author and poet Susan Schaefer Bernardo and illustrator Courtenay Fletcher created their first book Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs to help children deal with separation and loss.  It’s one of my favorite healing books for children. Click here to read the review.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

33 thoughts on “The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm

  1. Wow! The cover and title were intriguing enough to make this non-picture book person take a closer look. And your description of the text was powerful. To top it off, I grew up watching public television and I loved the Reading Rainbow guy! And now I know his name, lol.


    • I know, the cover and illustrations are great and follow the little rhino’s mood as he makes his journey. I wasn’t familiar with the Reading Rainbow — wrong decade. Glad you’re so enthusiastic. It really is a beautiful book.


  2. I saw this on TV, and though I often shy away from celebrity authors, was eager to get a better look. LeVar Burton is a true champion literacy and has seen plenty of good picture books in his time. I am glad to hear that he and his co-creators have turned out a valuable and charming picture book. Thanks for the review.


    • Yes, he has been a champion for literacy for many years. This is a wonderful collaboration. Susan is excellent with rhyme and the illustrations are stunning. Very helpful books for kids facing difficulties.


    • Glad you liked the book. Kids deal with tragedy every day — like the earthquakes near you that frigtened so many kids. That’s the kind of tragedy that Rhino addresses and helps kids and families find a way to cope and overcome fear together.


  3. I do love this title, and it carries a deeply significant, psychological these. It is sometimes too easy to swallow a storm. So great if children can talk about those feelings that would, otherwise, be buried so deeply and definitely make them feel really bad.


    • Yes, the cover is stunning. I know Susan had a lot of influence with the rhyming and has dealt with loss in other books. You’d enjoy her rhyming as it is engaging and not so scary. And yes, the illustrations are beautiful.


  4. I Love how you always find these healing books, Patricia! And this one is not excluded. I love the premise and theme. I wish I heard of this last summer during a thunderstorm which woke my grandson and then woke me!! He was so scared he didn’t fall asleep till the storm was over which meant I didn’t either. I feel like even though he thanked me for staying awake with him, I Failed somehow in comforting him. This book is needed not just by kids who are afraid of thunderstorms but all kids who suffer trauma of some kind. I see th is as a valuable book for them. 🙂

    I have to look it up. 🙂


    • Thank you Clar. I’m always searching for the right gems to share that will be helpful to a child. The book certainly is a great choice for the book shelf because it can help children cope with a variety of scary situations.


  5. I’ve been curious about this book, and now that you’ve recommended it, I’m going to check it out. Thanks for the great review, Patricia!


    • I’m so pleased that you like my review and want to check out the book. Believe me, it is such a great book to have if you have children. The story, rhyming and illustrations make for really great collaboration.


  6. Like Joanne, I’m usually skeptical of children’s books written by people who aren’t usually considered children’s book authors. So it’s nice to see that this one overcomes that bias. Thanks for highlighting!


    • This book is an excellent book to have on hand if you have young children. I love everything about this book. And, there are some excellent celebrity authors who are highly respected for their work — Julie Andrews, Henry Winkler, Maria Shriver and so on. And, LeVar has been an literacy advocate for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Healing books | atelierstorytime

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