MY RHINOCEROS, written and illustrated by Jon Agee ($16.95, Scholastic, ages 3 and up), is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels.

So children, you want a pet? What kid doesn’t? How about a puppy? A kitty? A hamster? Parakeet? Goldfish? No? Well, that’s what the boy pondered when he went to the pet shop to find the perfect companion. “… When I bought my rhinoceros, I didn’t really know what I was getting into.” Ya think? And… all sales were final.

In truth, the boy’s rhinoceros was quite nice. Didn’t make noise. Never tried to run away and was very well behaved. On the other hand, he wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun, either. He wouldn’t chase a ball, or a stick or even a Frisbee! Yes, the boy had to admit it, his new pet didn’t do… anything.

And so the boy went to see a woman who was a rhinoceros expert! Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing, did you? And she told him the truth, that the only things these huge animals did were… pop balloons and poke holes in kites with their one big tusk. Really? Really, thought the boy. “How pathetic.”

And yet, his rhino wouldn’t do either. That’s right. This peaceful beast did nothing, even when the boy took his pet to the park where there were loads of kids with balloons and kites. “Maybe he’s a clunker,” the boy thought. “Maybe I should have bought a hippopotamus, instead.”

And then, while walking his disappointing pet home from the park, he saw a robbery in progress. Oh, no! And the two robbers were getting away in, wait for it, now, one in a balloon and the other in a kite.

So… will the boy’s pitiful pet pop the balloon and poke a hole in the kite with his pointy tusk? Will he make sure those robbers get their due? And in the end, does the rhinoceros have another talent even the boy could have never imagined? Ah ha! Never underestimate the power of a… rhino.

Jon Agee, author of Milo’s Hat Trick, Terrific and Nothing (all ALA Notables) has come up with yet another fun read with adorable and engaging illustrations.

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