A rhinoceros and a rhinoceros beetle feature in this picture book imported from Spain.
Striving for more wisdom than the story delivers, author/illustrator Serra uses the rhinoceros and the rhinoceros beetle to illustrate that while creatures may be different, they also have similarities. The story begins with a double-page long shot showing a tiny rhinoceros contemplating the enormous moon. “There are moments when the world feels small,” says the text, and the page turn shows another double-page spread of a foregrounded rhinoceros beetle facing the sun, which looks small by comparison: “And other times when it feels huge.” This observation, while not startling, could be the springboard for an original storyline. Alas, it is not. “Sometimes we sink,” is followed by the clichéd “But sometimes we can soar.” When the rhinoceros and the beetle meet, “We’ll understand that we are unique.” How they will understand this when the illustration shows the beetle on the rhino’s tail looking at the rhino’s rear end is not immediately clear. Serra’s illustrations combine sharp-edged collaged shapes for the beetle and flora with a scribbly drawing style for the rhinoceros, and these two very different techniques don’t meld well visually. The theme that creatures can be different but also similar tries but doesn’t extend beyond the obvious, and the reach for the universal in similarity in the final line—that we all share the same planet—lacks impact.
A worthy idea presented without flair. (Picture book. 5-8)