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by Amy Schwartz & illustrated by Amy Schwartz

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-59643-230-7
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Darlene is a young hippo who wants to learn to act. She signs up for a theater class and participates in three plays over the course of the story, which is divided into short chapters. In each play, Darlene manages to cause some calamity. In her role as the flood in Noah’s Ark, she spills water on the front row of the audience; she scrambles her lines in an outer-space tale; and she falls asleep on stage while serving as the leading lady in Sleeping Beauty. In a clever twist, the local theater critic interprets each of Darlene’s performance problems as a theatrical breakthrough, with hilarious selected quotes from the reviews reproduced in the text (“Slumbering Princess Enlivens Classic Play”). Schwartz’s minimalist style of illustration brings added humor to the text in her choice of animal characters: The director is a fox in a beret, and the theater critic is a pig. The illustrations alternate formats between multiple spot illustrations and full-page views of the young hippo performing, using a soft palette and a minimalist approach that suits the understated text. (Picture book. 5-9)