“What dreams will you follow?” asks this hip-hop children’s book led by a break-dancing, rapping hippo complete with flat-top and track suit. What rhymes with perseverance?
Award-winning hip-hop artist and writer Akala has recently come to enjoy a renewed global presence with the viral status of internet videos featuring his enlightening perspectives on racism and injustice. In this picture book, he brings his supreme MC skills to the page. This tale, made especially for read-aloud or rap-aloud sessions, takes his rhyming prowess and places it in the persona of a hippo aptly named Hip, whose personal style seems to be a mashup of 1980s rap acts Run-DMC and Big Daddy Kane. The audience for his raps? None other than his bird friend Hop, who rocks sneakers and a backward-fitted cap but lacks confidence in his bike-riding abilities. How can he possibly win the Blueberry Hill bike race? Hip’s rhyming motivation can only be compared to current hip-hop standout DJ Khaled. “You can do anything if you try / You can do anything, ride or fly. / Don’t let anybody tell you no. / Focus on your dreams and go!” Readers know this story and how it ends. What news will amuse will be the spices the verse entices as it’s read aloud. Akyüz’s vibrant illustrations will push readers to stretch for those performance points.
Featuring more ground-level break dancing than groundbreaking narrative, this humorous children’s story puts a hip-hop spin on the plot staple of “practice makes perfect”—fun to read, best to rhyme. (Picture book. 3-8)