The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm Book Poster Image
Reassuring tale soothes fears, promotes sharing feelings.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Great lessons in emotional intelligence. Young kids will enjoy identifying the different animals in the story. Storm descriptions are more magical than meteorological.

Positive Messages

When you're angry and hurting, let your feelings out; share them with a trusted adult or friend. Band together with friends to help someone in trouble. Even if the friend's load is heavy, together you can lift your friend out of the "hole" he or she is in. "After every dark night, there comezzz a new day," counsels a bee. "Beeee kind, do your best, and you'll find your way." The turtle advises, "Allowing yourself to start feeling your feelings is the very first step on the journey toward healing." If you feel blue, remember to breathe. Reading a story can help you feel better. Have faith in your friends. Love is what matters. Bad things happen, but you can get through the tough times with the help of friends and family. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Papa mouse is kind and reassuring. He's filled his home with books and tells Mica that reading a story can help you feel better. Rhino is angry and hurt but learns to let his feelings out and have faith in his friends to help him out of the hole he's in. Rhino's animal friends are kind and caring and work together as a team to rescue him and help him feel better.

Violence & Scariness

The storm and its lightning look a little scary, and the rhino gets spun around and ends up in a dark gray hole. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo, is the first release from Reading Rainbow. The bold, colorful, graphically stylish art should draw young readers in, and the multilayered story has the appeal of a classic folktale. The emphasis here is on feelings -- identifying them and not holding them in -- with lots of positive messages about letting them out and talking about them with loved ones. It's a big lesson delivered with a light, kid-friendly touch. Could be especially helpful in talking to kids who have suffered a loss, natural disaster, or tragedy or who have heard about one in the news.

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What's the story?

A little mouse named Mica is afraid of the storm outside, so her papa reads her a soothing tale of a rhino who survives a storm and recovers from the emotional turbulence afterward thanks to the help and encouragement of his friends. In the story within the story, the rhino is so angry that the storm "took away everything dear to his heart" that he magically swallows the storm and then learns from his animal and insect friends that letting it out and talking about his feelings with those who love him will help him feel better.  

Is it any good?

This book reads like a wise and magical folktale, with many valuable lessons delivered in rhyming verse from cute animal and insect pals. THE RHINO WHO SWALLOWED A STORM is about a lot more than physical survival and calming the nerves of an anxious child. The story the father mouse reads deals especially with the rhino's emotional reality and ability to "move through your sorrow ... on the road to tomorrow."

Author LeVar Burton knows a thing or two about what kinds of stories keep kids engaged, and coauthor Susan Schaefer Bernardo wrote her previous book, Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs, with illustrator Courtenay Fletcher to help kids deal with separation and loss.

Fletcher's bold, graphic, computer-generated art will surely draw kids in, too. The meter in the rhymes occasionally varies, so parents reading aloud may need to be on their toes. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about storms. Have you ever been in a big one? What would you do to feel safe in a storm? 

  • How is this story like a folktale? Why are animals often the wise ones in folktales? Can you think of any other animal stories that teach lessons? 

  • When you're angry or sad, do you hold your feelings inside or do you talk about them with a parent, teacher, or friend to feel better? Does it help to share your feelings? 

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