Book Title: Last: The Story of a White Rhino (available here)
Author/Illustrator: Nicola Davies
Publication Date: September 2020
Reviewed By: Nia Talbot
This is an absolutely stunning book which shows how impactful a story can be through carefully crafted illustrations, use of colour and a few wisely chosen words.
The book is based on the experiences of Sudan, who was the last Northern White Rhino. Nicola Davies narrates his early life, time in captivity and the experience of being back in the wild. Sudan remembers his early life with fondness and colour, when he lived in the wild with his mother before he was taken into captivity and the colour left his world with 'many other lasts'. We then encounter the grey, drab experiences of Sudan in a zoo, where 'even the rain smelled empty'. Then, one day, something wonderful happens and Sudan is taken back to the wild to see that he is not the last one of his kind - as he meets another rhino who isn’t mama, but 'she smells beautiful' as his mama had.
Nicola Davies' illustrations are extremely poignant and bring another level of knowledge and understanding to the reader. They are talking points where the more you study them, the more you see. Pictures tell a thousand stories and here the illustrations are paramount in the telling of Sudan's experiences.
The book ends with information about Sudan that goes beyond what is explored in the story. It’s imperative for children to know about animal cruelty and also conservation. The story is not necessarily a happy one, but children need to realise what consequences will occur if they think endangered animals are someone else’s problem. Nicola’s words at the beginning of the book echoes this thought, “I believe that the world can change for the better, but it will change one heart at a time. Change your heart, change the world.”
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.
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