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THE HAPPIEST HIPPO IN THE WORLD by Danielle Steel

THE HAPPIEST HIPPO IN THE WORLD

By Danielle Steel (Author) , Margaret Spengler (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-157899-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

Pedestrian writing, a predictable plot laden with well-meaning didacticism and a not-entirely-believable happy ending prevent this effort by prolific novelist Steel from living up to its limited potential. Spengler’s brightly colored, softly rounded illustrations add charm to the slight story, but ultimately kids won’t really care whether Alphonse (aka Greenie), the only green hippo in his circus family, finds friendship and a place to belong in the wider world. The overlong narrative moves from the birth of the inexplicably green baby hippo to his equally puzzling banishment by the decidedly un-showmanlike circus owner to his decision to seek a new life in New York City. The use of short declarative sentences makes the text feel choppy; repetition saps it of impact (Greenie’s friend Charlie thinks he’s “beautiful”; in the next sentence Charlie and Greenie build “a beautiful castle”). Crucial details, meanwhile, are missing: Greenie is clearly happy to have found a friend, but young readers will likely wonder where he’s living, what he’s eating and who is taking care of him. Well-intentioned, perhaps, but utterly forgettable. (Picture book. 4-7)