In this sweet-but-sassy British import, Hugo the hippo and Bella the bird announce their intentions to attend the Hippo-Bird (or Bird-Hippo) Fairy-Tale Fancy Dress Party disguised as the Princess and the Pea.
Bella doesn’t want to be the pea to Hugo’s princess, of course (“too green and small”), so she decides she’ll be a mermaid and Hugo will be her rock. Hugo protests that rocks are “too gray and blobby”—despite obvious similarities between him and rocks that Bella isn’t shy to point out. Not long after their bickering ends in a snippy standoff, both separately reconsider…and both end up dressing as peas for the ball. This charming story of compromise is mostly a dialogue rendered in two typefaces, a rounder, more hippo-ish style for Hugo’s voice and a scrappier one for Bella’s. The spare design, a fetching combination of inky black lines and blankets of saturated color, perfectly reflects the comical nature of the friends’ opposing perspectives. Rickerty has fun with color—at one point Bella paints Hugo orange (to be Cinderella’s pumpkin), and the next spread is a cheerful mess of orange hippo tracks and white Bella tracks. The copyright page shows a photograph of a bird and hippo together, a natural phenomenon no doubt inspiring Hugo’s opening line “All hippos have birds, and Bella is mine.”
A satisfying story of hippo-bird, bird-hippo friendship. (Picture book. 3-6)