Monday, December 17, 2012

Book #352: Rhino’s Great Big Itch! by Natalie Chivers

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Rhino has an itch, a very big itch. It’s inside his ear and even after he twists and turns, wriggles and rolls, the itch was still there. Bird took one look at Rhino and said, “All you need is a little help.” Rhino could see Bird was right, so he set off to find some help.  He asked several animals, but for one reason or another each animal couldn’t help him. Frog was too slimy, Monkey was too silly, and Lizard was too prickly. Nothing worked and the big itch was still there. Rhino didn’t know what to do, but Bird piped up again, “I can help!” Rhino wasn’t too sure, this is a very big itch and Bird is very small. But Bird knew just what to do and with “a hop…and a skip…and a little peck…the itch was gone!”

The brief text of this simple story about opposites and size is full of words that roll about the tongue pleasingly and encourage movement for both the reader and the listener. The book and the printed text, like Rhino’s itch, is big making this a good book to share with a group of babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. The painted illustrations use a pale color palate and Chivers’ blending of colors adds subtle detail. The grain of the canvas is visible in the illustrations, which adds texture and complexity without cluttering the clean compositions. The animals are stylistically rendered, yet they are realistic enough to be easily identifiable.

Use this book for a storytime about rhinos. Try pairing it with other stories that feature rhinos, such as Hippo! No, Rhino! or A Porcupine Named Fluffy.

This is also a nice addition to a storytime about opposites. Other books that address the differences between big and small include, Guinea Pigs Far and Near and The Little Little Girl with the Big Voice. Include some non-fiction titles in your storytime by reading all or part of Actual Size or Big & Little, both by Steve Jenkins. Follow up by singing your favorite songs or rhymes in great, big, loud voices and then small, soft, quiet voices. 

You can also use this book with kindergarten or elementary aged kids as an introduction to symbiotic relationships in the animal world. I’ve found references to black and white rhinos having symbiotic relationships with cattle egrets and tickbirds or oxpeckers. Ask kids what might cause Rhino’s itch and how Bird might be helpful, beyond just scratching the itch. Follow up by sharing non-fiction books about symbiosis, such as How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships or Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom.


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