Home > Categories > Books > Kids - Preschool > What Do You Need Little Rhino? review
This delightful story for younger children is about a little rhino who gets really mad but can't explain why. Luckily, in the end, everything works out just as it should.
What Do You Need Little Rhino? helps children to learn to cope with their feelings when everything gets too much for them.
Anger is such a tough emotion, and nowhere can that be seen more obviously than in kids. My eldest daughter is particularly hot-headed, and can often get very angry quickly, especially when she is tired. Trying to keep calm and help her process her feelings is a work in progress for our whole family, but my youngest daughter particularly struggles to understand. I hoped that this book might be a great tool to use with both of the girls, both as a story and as a starting point for conversations about ways we an help each other when we feel those emotions beginning to swell.
The book begins with Little Rhino being angry. She can't find a way to help herself calm down, and she gets more and more frustrated. Her parents try to offer her things to help. In the end a hug is offered, and even though she doesn't want to, she takes it anyway. We finish with a picture of her hugging her parents on the sofa, calm and happy.
The first thing which hit me about the book is the small amount of words compared to others of its type. I loved how this is really consistent with how it feels to be mad- out of words and unable to communicate. Although the words were few, they were perfectly chosen to explain how Little Rhino is feeling. My eldest daughter could really empathise with her, and understood how hard it must be for everyone, including Little Rhino, when she wasn't able to help herself. Being able to understand when you need someone else to help you calm down is something many adults struggle with, and this definitely gave my daughter some food for thought.
What the book may lack in words, it more than makes up for in pictures. The colour palette is beautifully chosen to represent the 'red' emotion, and the spots and spatters were instantly recognisable to my eldest daughter as anger. The lightning up of the colours when Little Rhino is finally calm is a subtle touch , reinforcing the value of contact. Little Rhino and her family are beautifully drawn, with the simplicity of their form putting even more emphasis on the emotions playing out in the story. My youngest daughter really connected with the illustrations understanding that Little Rhino was struggling to communicate. She knew many of the behaviours were silly, but understood that Llittle Rhino needed help. This led to some really cool conversations about how we can help each other if we can't help ourselves. Because of the simple design and story, this book could also be a great calming down tool on its own.
This book may be small on words, but boy does it pack a big punch of emotion and heart. A tool for understanding, for conversations and planning, a calming down tool on its own, or just a great story about the need we all have for connection. This book would be at home on any child's bookshelf, even beyond preschoolers, as the simplicity makes it accessible on so many levels. I know we will continue to keep reading this book again and again, reinforcing that you cannot solve everything alone, and that sometimes all you need is a hug.
Miss Four and Mr Two could both relate to this book. Like all toddlers, Mr Two has his moments and the grown-ups in his life have to be very patient, knowing that sooner or later the storm will pass and he will be back to his usual sunny self. What was interesting was that he was able to relate to Little Rhino and realise why she was upset: he knew instinctively that part of her anger was in not recognising what was wrong and therefore not knowing how to address it. He even tried to cuddle the book in an attempt to empathise with her. Little Rhino's frustration was exactly the same as his can be at times!
Miss Four, too, recognised Little Rhino's anger and confusion, and even suggested that she might be just tired. She loved the pictures and kept explaining how the rhino was feeling and what could be done to help her. Although the story is quite short, it offers a great way to open up discussion about dealing with feelings and the way children can help themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed. The panic a child experiences when he cannot calm down, and his inability to verbalise what is happening - these are times when the only thing an adult can do is to take a deep breath and wait for the meltdown to resolve.
Mr Two did say that Little Rhino was naughty to kick the blocks. He knows he is not allowed to act out like that, and thought that she should have had more self-control. At the same time, even at his young age, he recognised what was going on for her and her inability to deal with it in a socially acceptable way. Having a trusted grown up nearby who loves the child despite the dramatics is reassuring; the child needs to know he is loved even if he does step out of line or behave inappropriately. Sometimes the best resolution is a good old-fashioned hug.
The most powerful part of this book, in my opinion, is the way the illustrations mirror Little Rhino's feelings. The cover picture shows her isolated in the middle of an empty space, with large angry red and black blobs surrounding her - just as though she were enclosed in her black mood. The pictures follow her from page to page as she hurtles through the house, spreading mayhem everywhere. The sheer energy she expends is in direct contrast to the calm exuded by Mum and Dad, who quietly ask her what she needs. I loved the way the story ended, and so did Mr Two and Miss Four. It was a satisfactory result for everyone!
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