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The Picture Book Buzz

Rhino in the House: The True Story of Saving Samia - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Many of us talk about saving endangered species. We send money to , advocate for, or endorse organizations and zoos which work to educate people and protect these amazing animals. Such as the San Diego Zoo, which has successfully raised a number of rare rhinos, hoping to someday return them to the wild. But Anna Merz moved to Africa, helped create a sanctuary, and saved a number of black rhinos. This is her story.

Rhino in the House: The True Story of Saving Samia

Author/Illustrator: Daniel Kirk

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (2017)

Ages : 4-8 Years



Wildlife protection, animal rescue, black rhinos, and compassion.

Summary (From Barnes & Noble):

From the award-winning author of the bestselling Library Mouse series comes a biographical picture book about the true story of rhino champion Anna Merz and the black rhinoceros Samia. With a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Lewa Downs Conservancy, this engaging story is perfect for animal lovers, animal rights enthusiasts, and fans of Me . . . Jane. When Anna Merz traveled to East Africa, she became appalled at the rampant poaching that took place there, specifically toward the black rhinoceros. Anna devoted her life to protecting the wildlife of the region, founding a reserve in Kenya called Lewa Downs to care for them. Anna kept a watchful eye on the animals, especially the rhinos. One day, Anna found a small black rhino calf, likely abandoned by its mother. So she nurtured the calf, named it Samia, fed it special formula, and even let it sleep in her bed. Everywhere Anna went Samia was never far behind. The two became so close, in fact, that Anna soon learned how rhinos communicate with one another. Anna was able to distinguish the rhino’s many different grunts and what she meant by them: “Snort! Snuff,” cried Samia (“This is fun!”); “Hoo-hoo-hoo!” she called (“I’m coming!”). But with time, Samia got bigger . . . and bigger . . . and bigger—to the point where she couldn’t fit inside Anna’s house any longer. It was time for Anna to make the tough decision she always knew she would have to make at some point or another: She would need to reintroduce Samia to the wild so she could lead her life with the rest of her kind.

Opening Lines:

Everyone needs a safe place to live. Anna Merz wanted the rhinos of East Africa to have a home where they would be free from danger. There were men who wanted to cut off the rhino's horns and then sell them to make medicine and other items. So Anna found a special place on thousands of acres of rolling plains called Lewa Downs.

What I liked about this story:

The image of Samia on the cover caught my attention immediately and i fell in love with her personality and story. Being an avid environmentalist, I admire Anna Merz's dedication and love for African animals. Daniel did an excellent job of bringing kids into the trials and joys of raising an orphaned rhino calf.

What do the baby rhino's noises mean?

At three, young Samia still liked to wander into Anna's house. Though this often resulted in her eating Anna's hat, interrupting a bath, or getting wedged in a doorway. By the time she was grown, Samia had learned to live with the rhinos in the sanctuary. But the two shared a friendship and a bond for the rest of their lives. Daniel poignantly begins and ends the tale of their friendship with Anna reading books to Samia,.

Except for a mention of poachers in the beginning, this is not a heavy-handed book on conservation. It is a lovely tribute to an amazing woman and an incredible friendship. The author's note leaves the reader with Anna's final words: "the rhino's race to extinction can be halted if only enough people care."

Related Activities:

- visit a zoo or wildlife park and learn more about rhinos and conservation efforts;

- San Francisco Zoo materials (NGSS standards included) for World Rhino Day, September 22,

- help organizations dedicated to saving rhinos (or other species) Save the Rhino Organization ( or World Wildlife Fund ( or the Anna's own Lewa Wildlife Sanctuary (

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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