4 out of 4 stars
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Children’s books are always touch-and-go when it comes to their content and meaning. Every now and then, one comes across a real gem. This is that gem. I cannot give higher praise to Daniel Murray for his well-thought-out and thoroughly enjoyable book, The Monkey and the Rhino. In his book, the monkey is struggling with his identity and trying to be more like the rhino so as not to get hurt in the hail. Seeing as the rhino has such a thick skin, he suggests that the monkey simply form one, too. This leads to some interesting escapades for the monkey.
The thought of forming a thick skin is not lost on most adults. It has a double meaning in this book, though, because the monkey is not only being forced to change who he is, but also to not let it upset him. The rhino is simply saying, ‘be like me,’ but he doesn’t realise that every animal is an individual; there are also other ways to overcome obstacles.
This is such a small but significant lesson for children. Especially in today’s world where cruelties like bullying exist. I think this is a fantastic book to read to young children in the 3 to 6 age bracket, but I also think it will be beneficial for older kids that are developing their reading skills. At this age, children are still learning to be compassionate, and this is a great tool to help them develop.
The illustrations are simple and colourful, and they are also capable of telling the story on their own. Because of this, The Monkey and The Rhino is a book that younger kids will want to read repeatedly. This further enhances the wonderful message of the book.
There is one glaring error: the names of the animals have all been capitalised. Now, I would have no problem if the rhino’s name was Rhino, but they were referred to as ‘the Monkey’ and ‘the Rhino’ the entire book through. The same was true for the other animals. Because this book is so stellar, I assume that the author perhaps has some reason for this, but without explanation, I can’t figure it out. I have pondered what to do about this back and forth a hundred times. I don’t feel that this book deserves to lose a star, so I have lumped the capitalisation faux pas into a single error. This leaves the book with a grand total of one error. I implore the author to either rectify or to explain.
Accepting unique qualities and celebrating people’s differences are things that we should all aspire to do. If I could rate this book more, I would. As it is, a solid four out of four stars is absolutely befitting. As mentioned, this book is aimed at younger children, however, the message in the book has further-reaching designs. This is a book that adults could also learn a thing or two from. With understanding comes tolerance and ultimately acceptance. Hopefully, of oneself and others. I have personally taken a page out of this book and will try to remember that, maybe, my way is not always the only way.
The Monkey and the Rhino
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