Rhino Neil, by Mini Goss

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

Living in a zoo filled with exotic animals doesn’t always mean that you have friends. Rhino Neil is big, and because the other animals in the zoo find him scary, he is lonely. Then, one day a new animal arrives and Neil is no longer the biggest animal at the zoo. The arrival of Tuscany means the arrival of a new friend for Neil.

This is a wonderful story inspired by one of Mini Goss’s children and a visit to Werribee Zoo. We meet a fantastic range of African animals; giraffes, zebra’s, ostriches and antelope’s as we learn why they fear Rhino Neil. The book is an excellent way to promote discussion about fear, likes and dislikes.

The illustrations are beautiful, bright and emotive. Mini Goss’s ability as an illustrator is highlighted through her wonderful use of perspective and showing Neil as he appears to the animals. Using symmetry and shape well, the animals fill the pages, showing their emotions through their facial expressions and in particular their eyes.

This is a well written, enjoyable story that does not waste words. The language is suitable for early readers and it is easy for younger children to follow and listen to. The illustrations will delight everyone. A highly recommended read for everyone who enjoys picture books.

Rhino Neil, by Mini Goss
New Frontier, 2005