The Last Rhino

Children - Animals
87 Pages
Reviewed on 09/22/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

The Last Rhino reunites an award-winning team: author Deborah Stevenson and illustrator Morgan Spicer. Their picture books have won numerous awards, including Best Children's Non-Fiction Book, Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Soaring Soren: When French Bulldogs Fly and Feathered Quill's Best Children's Animal Book for Oy, Elephants!

Stevenson and Spicer share a passion for animals that is the heart and soul of their collaboration, and a strong desire to share that passion with children. The Last Rhino is their first chapter book. Deborah enjoyed the freedom to explore more complex plots and characters, and Morgan, the opportunity to utilize her formidable talents in black and white illustrations. For both, the driving force behind this project was to raise awareness and funds to help perilously endangered rhinos survive for future generations.

In addition to sharing her love of animals with children, Deborah Stevenson's books convey positive messages about believing in your abilities⎯-to achieve your goals, to make positive differences in the world, and to be kind to yourself and others. A former technical writer, literature major, and a mother, children's books have proven to be a perfect outlet for Deborah's interests. She lives in New Jersey with a few too many dogs, but wouldn't trade any of them. When she is not marketing telecomm products at her day job, or writing, she enjoys training for and competing in the sport of dog agility.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

The Last Rhino by Deborah Stevenson is a children's animal book that seeks to educate young readers on the horrific effects that poaching has had on rhinos. The story features a young rhino, Ayubu, as he struggles to survive in the unforgiving African jungle. Grazing under the warmth of the African sun, Ayubu has little knowledge of the danger that is concealed in the savannah, but this is about to change when an encounter with poachers robs him of his mother, Nthanda. Lonely and broken-hearted, Ayubu is forced to move on with his dear, faithful friend Imari, a cattle egret. Soon enough, Ayubu establishes a friendship with Raziya, the vivacious young elephant. Amid the good times, they encounter devastating experiences, but their unity prevails above all.

In the story The Last Rhino, Deborah Stevenson creates compelling characters in Ayubu and his friend, Raziya, who constantly face the threat of poaching. Ayubu loses most of his family to this heinous crime which opened my eyes to the extent and impact of poaching in Africa. As the population of rhinos sharply decreases, something needs to be done and fast. Poaching and encroachment have seen many rhinos killed, with the species being driven almost to the point of extinction. It is in this light that books such as The Last Rhino play a critical role in bringing up a generation that does not remain oblivious to the impact of poaching, but is educated on the steps that can be taken to ensure that rhinos not only survive, but thrive. The book is not only informative, but also interesting and thought-provoking.

Vernita Naylor

Mother Nature has given us so many animals, insects and beasts of the fields to gaze at and wonder about. Deborah Stevenson has created an insightful and educational children's book about the life of a rhino in The Last Rhino. Ayubu learns a lot about himself, life and the world when his mother, Nthanda, is captured by poachers. The capture of his mother is the event that changed Ayubu’s life forever. As he grew up, he met two new friends: Imari, the egret and Raziya, along the journey. When Ayubu and Raziya were playing and freely roaming around the fields, Raziya got caught in a poachers' pit. Suddenly Ayubu recalled how he had lost his mother the same way. Will he lose someone that he cares about again? Children will learn a lot not only about the wonderful adventures of Ayubu, the rhino, but also about Africa from the beautiful illustrations to the meanings of the names of the animals.

I truly loved The Last Rhino because there is so much to learn here. As Deborah states, we need to be at the forefront of ensuring that animals like the rhino and elephant do not become extinct like the dinosaurs and many other animals. Children will learn not only the meaning of the names but how to phonetically pronounce them. Also they will become educated about poachers, rhinos, rhino fun facts and how to get involved in helping to preserve the rhino population. A portion of the proceeds will help to conserve the rhino population.

Jack Magnus

The Last Rhino is a children’s educational picture book written by Deborah Stevenson and illustrated by Morgan Spicer. Ayubu and his mother, Nthanda, were the last rhinos left on the African plains they called home. Together with Imari, the cattle egret, who loved to ride on Nthanda’s back and keep her free of ticks and insects, they visited the local watering hole in a move to escape the scorching summer heat. Imari also served as a lookout to make sure that Nthanda and Ayubu stayed safe. The savannah held many dangers even for the mighty Nthanda. Not only were there lions and other predators, Nthanda explained to her son, but also human hunters who sought to kill rhinos for their horns. These poachers broke the law when they did so, and they had already killed so many rhinos, including Ayubu’s own father and little sister. As they were enjoying the late afternoon sun, there was a sound of an engine, and a Jeep filled with poachers pulled into view. Could Ayubu and Nthanda get away in time or would the last two rhinos be gone forever?

In her educational story book for children, The Last Rhino, Deborah Stevenson introduces the animals that live on the African savannah and discusses the plight of the rhino, whose horns are sought after by poachers, and who are being hunted into extinction. Morgan Spicer’s illustrations make each panel in the story come to life as Ayubu slowly grows up to be the Last Rhino. Stevenson includes a glossary of African names and what they mean; an informative section on rhinos and their endangered status; a page describing what kids can do to help rhinos; and a list of Rhino Fun Facts. The Last Rhino is most highly recommended.

Mamta Madhavan

The Last Rhino by Deborah Stevenson is an adorable story that tackles the topic of poaching and raises a serious awareness about the problem. Ayubu, the baby rhino, was feeling hot and he headed to the watering hole with his mother, Nthanda. Imari, the white cattle egret, was with them, perched on Nthanda’s back. He had been with Nthanda since before Ayubu was born. Imari not only kept the mother rhino free of ticks and insects, but also alerted the rhinos to dangers on the savanna. Imari and Nthanda tell Ayubu that the greatest danger rhinos faced was from poachers and they explain to him about what poachers do. While Nthanda and Imari dozed off in the afternoon, Ayubu wandered off all by himself. After he reached home, he asked his mother about his father and sister Mbali who were killed by poachers.

Set against the backdrop of Africa, the story shows readers how Ayubu loses his mother, Nthanda, when she falls into a trap laid by poachers. Ayubu’s life takes a different turn after that and he makes good elephant friends, like Raziya and her mother. It is heartwarming to see Ayubu saving Raziya from the poacher’s pit. This story of friendship, courage, faith, and determination will make young readers aware of rhinos and how to make sure that they survive and also other endangered species. The black and white illustrations breathe life into the characters and scenes, making them vivid for readers. It is a good bedtime storybook and is ideal for classroom read aloud sessions because of the message it conveys. The rhino fun facts at the end of the story are informative and educational.