Review: The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm, by LeVar Burton & Susan Schaefer Bernardo. Illustrations by Courtenay Fletcher. Reading Rainbow.

This is a wonderful book! Having previously reviewed Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs and The Big Adventures of Tiny House, I am an unabashed admirer of the work of Susan Schaefer Bernardo and Courtenay Fletcher. Now, in this book, they have joined forces with the insightful and talented LeVar Burton.

 

In this story we encounter young Mica Mouse, so scared by a storm that she feels she has swallowed it and it is playing havoc with her feelings. Fortunately for Mica, she has a loving and caring Papa and a flock of understanding and helpful friends who help her find a way to quiet the storm and be at peace.

 

I am a licensed psychotherapist, and have worked with troubled children for many years now. Clinical literature tells us that, even in our 21st century, anxiety in children is not well understood. It is frequently under diagnosed or misdiagnosed. It is often mistaken for being oppositional, disobedient or defiant. In fact, these behaviors may represent the child’s desperate attempts to avoid or cope with disturbing feelings that they may not know how to identify and/or communicate. What is important for adults to understand is that the child, lacking the maturity and judgment to determine what dangers are real or imagined, is developmentally entitled to experience fears, and to feel anxious when he is afraid.

 

A child who is anxious or fearful may indeed feel he/she has swallowed a storm, as the central character in this story, and be very troubled and yet lack the means to identify the source of the fear, or to know what to do about it to quiet the turbulence.

 

So, this book is an outstanding resource for children, parents, teachers, and therapists. It presents a story that children can resonate to, and provides answers that they can feel comforted and soothed by. The story is beautifully and poetically told, and brilliantly illustrated. The time-honored approach of storytelling is used to fine effect here, and there is also a useful page of questions at the end of the story to help the reader/child to apply Mica’s story to his/her own experiences.

 

My thanks to Susan Bernardo for providing a copy of this book to read and review.

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