Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clara by Emily Arnold McCully

An orange eating, world traveling rhino. Need I say more?
Please pretend to ignore that I used a hippo in the pictures, not a rhino. Thank you. It makes me feel better.
(They were both grey....)

This true story starts out in India, when a baby rhino wanders into afternoon tea. If that sentence doesn't captivate you, I just don't know about you.

The visiting Captain Van der Meer is enchanted and takes Clara the rhino home to Holland.

He continues to be enchanted, even when she requires a vast amount of feeding and shows a predilection for oranges, an expensive taste to feed.

On the sea journey they become great pals. Isn't this picture lovely? I like Emily Arnold McCully's illustrations.

Admiring each other.

Captain Van der Meer is rather poor and Clara is rather expensive, so they begin to tour Europe, earning money for her upkeep.

Rafting the Rhine.

Their journey's through Europe.

King Louis XV wanted to buy him for his exotic animal park at Versailles. But Captain Van der Meer said Clara was worth $100,000 in gold, so King Louis changes his mind. 

Which relieves the Captain's mind exceedingly.

All this traveling has started rhino-mania across Europe. Artists, musicians, poets, all flock to Clara and try to capture a little of her quiet majesty. Ladies adopted a hairstyle a la rhinoceros.

But then, the time came when Clara was no longer interested in her baskets of oranges. And the Captain knows she is dying. 

"Dear Clarakin," he murmurred, "you've been the greatest trouper and my truest friend."

For a moment, Clara seemed to be remembering it all. And then she shut her eyes.

Such a sweet book. In the author's afterward, she mentions that we don't see Clara's life as being good for her, but she lived longer than rhino's typically do in the wild and that this was centuries before people understood how important it was for wild animals to be wild. 

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