Operation Rhino, Lauren St John
I read this aloud to the girls (ages 3, 5 and 7). The elder two were very into it, from the outset. Horses AND wild animals? Horses and wild animals for your very own? Horse and wild animals racing each other? They were smitten! Esky appreciated being reunited with the white giraffe she knew from the book so named. Meanwhile, Mia's feet were ceiling-ward and her hands were animated characters. Alas, the reading went on (with minimal murmuring from the listeners about the static). We read this as part of an Africa Inquiry (Home-school) Unit, and as always, the fiction text generated more questions than any of the non-fiction offerings we have out from the library; "What's 'Zulu'?" and "What's 'a reserve?'" I think they're much more likely to remember the answers given the fiction-based context too. Unfortunately...I really didn't care for the writing style or story much at all, myself. My greatest pet peeve was how there was very little distinction between character and narrative voice...children uttered lines I couldn't buy into and there wasn't varied personality between characters. I wanted this book to be over! Sooooo...I recommend this for readers around 10 years of age who rip through books, who are interested in hard topics like poaching receiving treatment for a junior audience with a sprinkling of rhino and African trivia (younger for read-aloud -- 7/8 years and up).