Lulu may look like an bulldog to you and me, but when she looks in the mirror, she sees a rhinoceros. In her heart, her fluffy, soft fur is really thick skin, and her nubby little tail is actually whiplike. The only thing she needs is a horn: then everyone will know she’s really a rhino! But as she searches for her horn, others laugh at her and cruelly mock her; her Cinderella-like search for the perfect horn takes a few sweet, giggle-worthy turns, especially at the ice cream cart. When Lulu wanders into a rhino enclosure at a zoo, she meets a friend who uses common sense to see her for who she is, and they come together to form a mutually beneficial, wonderful, friendship.
This sweet story is perfect for everyone: in addition to addressing gender identity, Lulu speaks to readers who don’t feel like they quite fit in; readers who don’t want to go with the crowd. The message is strong: be true to yourself. It also extols the virtue of finding – or being – that one friend who can see through the exterior to who you are inside. The softly drawn artwork has muted colors, bringing a sense of calm to the story and allows readers to focus on Lulu’s internal dialogue. The story addresses social issues like introspection, friendship, social issues, tolerance, and yes, gender identity, and I love it. A portion of all the proceeds from sales of Lulu is a Rhinoceros are being donated to the African Wildlife Foundation to help protect Africa’s endangered wildlife and their habitat, so you’re doing two good deeds by buying the book! There’s an interview with authors Jason and Allison Flom (with real-life Lulu!) on the African Wildlife Foundation’s webpage. Pair this one with Bow-Wow Meow, by Blanca Lacasa.