cover image My Rhinoceros

My Rhinoceros

Jon Agee. Scholastic/di Capua, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-29441-6

Adopting a rhinoceros, in and of itself, would be absurd enough for most storytellers. For Agee (Milo's Hat Trick), it is simply the first in a series of weird narrative curveballs. The young narrator discovers that his mellow, sleepy-eyed new pet will not "chase a ball. Or a stick. Or a frisbee." He consults a "rhinoceros expert," who tells him that "rhinoceroses only do two things. Pop balloons and poke holes in kites." The disappointed boy takes his rhino to a park, where it ignores children flying kites and placidly sniffs flowers while run-of-the-mill dogs play real games. Only when two bank robbers attempt a getaway, using a hot-air balloon and a hang-glider, does the rhinoceros prove its mettle, springing into superheroic action and demonstrating a third, even more surprising ability. Agee's deadpan voice and blocky, India-ink-and-watercolor pictures play into the inherent oddity of the story. The huge gray rhino allows its comparatively small owner to lead it by a thin rope, and stays calm except in the boy's imagination and in the triumphant non sequitur of a conclusion. Ages 3%E2%80%937. (Sept.)