|Clara : the (mostly) true story of the rhinoceros who dazzled kings, inspired artists, and won the hearts of everyone ... while she ate her way up and ...|
Author: McCully, Emily Arnold
A rhinoceros tours Europe in the mid-18th century and becomes a sensation--based on a true story.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: .5 Quiz: 182418
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 69017
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/16)
School Library Journal (05/01/16)
Booklist (+) (05/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (07/16)
The Hornbook (00/05/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/01/2016 PreS-Gr 3—In 1741, a Dutch sea captain, Douwemont Van der Meer, transported Clara, a young rhinoceros, from India to his home in Leiden. For the next 17 years, Van der Meer transported her to dozens of cities throughout Europe, including Berlin, Rome, Paris, and Vienna. Clara charmed royals such as Empress Maria Theresa and Louis XV. She amazed peasants and aristocrats, who paid to see her. Poets, painters, and musicians created works in her honor. McCully carries readers on these travels while never losing sight of the relationship between the captain and Clara. Van der Meer needed to raise money constantly to satisfy Clara's prodigious appetite for bread and hay and her fondness for oranges and beer. She repaid him with affection and patience during the travels and exhibitions. McCully's watercolor illustrations capture the fashions and landscapes of the time. Panoramas such as the entourage sailing on a huge raft down the Rhine convey the spectacular undertaking involved in Clara's travels. An extensive author's note supplies additional information on Clara's story and the current state of rhinoceros populations. Consider pairing this title with Mary Tavener Holmes's My Travels with Clara, which incorporates photos of paintings, coins, and figurines with Clara's image. - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2016 *Starred Review* In 1741, Captain Van der Meer sailed to India and returned to Holland with a “mythical beast,” an orphaned, one-year-old rhinoceros named Clara. Van der Meer grew to love his new friend, who rewarded his kindness with affection and trust. He took her throughout Europe, where crowds and even royal heads of state came to see her. As she grew, the problem of raising money to feed her became more challenging, but Van der Meer persisted, and they traveled together for 17 years, until Clara’s death. In this smoothly written, fictionalized tale based on historical facts, McCully shows what a marvel it was at that time before nature films, photography, and zoos for people to see a large, unfamiliar animal, though in an appended note, she mentions that today “we know that confining and exhibiting a wild animal is inhumane.” Graceful, expressive, and beautifully composed, the ink-and-watercolor illustrations portray the young rhino as small, easygoing, and adorable, and the older Clara as large, gentle, and still adorable. Pair this handsome volume with the many history-based picture books, such as Dianne Hofmeyr’s Zeraffa Giraffa (2014), telling of a giraffe that traveled from Egypt to France in 1826 and, like Clara, drew admiring crowds wherever she went. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2016 In the mid-eighteenth century, an orphaned baby Indian rhinoceros was adopted by Dutch merchant Douwe Mout van der Meer, and the pair embarked on a whirlwind show-and-tell tour of Europe, to the delight of European audiences. A rhino was a novelty in that time and place, and Clara was purportedly a docile and enchanting ambassador for the species. McCully is upfront, in the title and in the closing authorial note, about the poetic license she has taken in her literary recreation of this relationship, but it’s not always clear which textual details are fact and which are fiction (for example, did Clara really enjoy drinking beer?). She also sometimes gets carried away, anthropomorphically speaking, in her portrayal of Clara: “Clara was hoisted slowly onto Van der Meer’s ship. It must have been frightening, but she trusted the captain.” McCully’s pen and ink and watercolor illustrations ably convey the formality of the period (kids will get a kick out of all the wigs, especially those created to imitate Clara’s horned head) while the casual strokes keep the action down to earth, and the seemingly smiling Clara is a winning, personable figure. A list of resources and two maps depicting Clara’s travels are included. Pair this with Cox’s Elizabeth, Queen of the Sea (BCCB 7/14) for another fictionalized true story of a community’s relationship with a captivating creature. JH - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.