Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone... While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent

Emily Arnold McCully. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-553-52246-4
“Nearly three hundred years ago, when half the world was still a mystery to the other half,” a rhinoceros named Clara became the toast of Europe, thanks to her impresario, Captain Van der Meer. But this isn’t the story of a ruthless entrepreneur and his exploited zoological curiosity. With elegant watercolor and ink drawings and flawless storytelling, McCully (Queen of the Diamond) immerses readers in an era of powdered white wigs (“hairdressers created the style à la rhinocéros”) and tricorne hats while capturing a relationship that exemplifies absolute trust and unflagging devotion. Every day, Clara grows by 20 pounds and eats more than 100 pounds of food; moving her requires ever-bigger wagons, and, in one case, a custom-made raft. Yet this interspecies bond only deepens: Van der Meer dotes on his “Clarakin,” and on page after page, Clara regards him with openhearted affection—she is his eager collaborator to the very end. McCully calls this a “mostly” true story, and perhaps by strict historical standards, that’s correct. But its emotional veracity is never in question. Ages 4–8. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2016
Release date: 06/07/2016
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 48 pages - 978-0-553-52247-1
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