by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:When little Mica Mouse is scared by thunder booming outside her cozy home, Papa Mouse reaches for just the right story to comfort her. Hugging her close, he begins to read The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm. In this poetic book-within-a-book, a happy little rhinoceros is overwhelmed by a storm that sweeps away everything he loves. Swallowing the storm just makes him feel worse, so Rhino sets off on a whimsical journey toward healing. Along the way, he meets many friends, including a kind spider, a brave kangaroo, a wise tortoise, and an uplifting whale. With their help, Rhino lets go of the storm inside and learns to see the light in a world turned gray. Mica Mouse is soothed by the story and Papa’s gentle reminder that even though bad things sometimes happen, the world is full of people who care.
Review:This was a lovely and charming read with a heartwarming and uplifting message. Since it's a story within a story, the Rhino's tale serves as a kind of fable for kids to reach out to loved ones in times of trouble. I think the message is a timely one, and it made me feel a little emotional in the hope that it's a message that more people are able to take to heart. The illustrations are bright and enhance the poetic story beautifully. This is really a lovely read for children - and even better, it's a great book for parents and teachers to read to children.
I don't read a lot of children books now, but this is a nice book for me to look over every now and again for it's message and charm.
The Book Signing
For the event, LeVar Burton gave a little speech about Reading Rainbow and why he wanted to write a book - he wanted to write something that Mr. Rogers (from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) would have written. And then LeVar read the whole book to us and the kids who were seated on the floor in front of him - and that whole experience was a delight. He did voices and gave a great performance of the book. After, there was a Q&A and I was intrigued by a couple of answers he gave - one that his favorite book as a child was Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, which was so absorbing to him that he felt depressed when the book was over, and that to this day, when he's reading a great book, he slows down to make it last a little longer. Which is something I have a very hard time doing, because even if a book is so good I don't want it to end, I do want to know how it ends and get that closure!
The other answer was to the last question of the night which was - why a Rhino out of all animals? And it's because Rhinos are strong and if even they are brought down by pain and grief, and yet can move past it, then anyone can. And as the editor points out, there are a lot of stories about elephants.
And then that was pretty much it! I was so happy I went (and managed to not ask him about Star Trek, haha). I do wish I had asked for a posed photo - his people were saying there wasn't time, but I think a few people asked anyways and got it! But itt was a very enjoyable evening, and well worth the traffic-heavy drive through downtown Los Angeles!