“Impressive hand-built sets make for unique, fun illustrations in this pleasant story.”
Three unique friends—Hudson the hippopotamus, Fran the worm, and, most unexpectedly, Jean the lightbulb—are enthralled by rhinoceroses. They’re so enchanted that they decide to form a secret society to study their favorite animal, and eat sandwiches. One day during a society meeting, a delivery is made by none other than Ivy the rhinoceros, but dressed in a yellow flower-print shirt and donning a wide brim sun hat, she is not the commanding figure the friends expected. After their initial shock, they invite her to join for sandwiches, and Ivy is so impressed by their sandwiches that she suggests they convert their secret society into a sandwich shop open to all. The story is fun and mirrors the title: just as the friends discover rhinos are not as they expected, readers will discover that the Secret Rhino Society is in the end an open-to-all sandwich shop. What really makes this a remarkable book are the three-dimensional, hand-built sets used in the illustrations. A miniature, picturesque theater and the friend’s haphazard but charming clubhouse are both delightful. These sets are enhanced with fun digital touches—observant readers will notice, for example, that the rhino-print endpapers match the rhino-print blanket used by the friends to build a hut.
In the spirit of favorites like Stick & Stone and Spoon this warmhearted and hilarious picture book tells the story of a highly unusual group of friends and is stunningly illustrated by Samantha Cotterill.
Meet Hudson, a hippo. Fran, an earthworm. And Jean, a lightbulb.
They have one thing in common: a profound appreciation for rhinos. So, they form a Secret Rhino Appreciation Society, in which a key activity it wearing paper horns. (Sometimes this results in a fire. That’s what happens when a lightbulb wears a paper horn.) But when they meet their first real, live rhino and ask her to do rhino-y things, she doesn’t want to charge or snort—she’s a gardener! She is not what the society expected, but can they learn to appreciate her for who she is?
This funny, character-driven story explores themes of friendship, expectations, and prejudice.
Samantha Cotterill is an illustrator and textile designer. Her picture book debut, No More Bows!, which she also wrote, was called “an enjoyable, repeatable read-aloud with memorable art” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review. She is also the illustrator of Charlotte and the Rock by Stephen Martin, The Forever Garden by Laurel Snyder, Jinx and the Doom Fight Crime! by Lisa Mantchev, and Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi. Samantha lives with her family in Upstate New York.