A delightful French world in which animals and people have equal status is the setting for this fantasy narrated from beginning to end by an articulate sparrow. Madame Hourmarette, owner of one of the bookstalls along the Seine, was very fond of the sparrow and of a young Parisian boy named Mistigri. But the old bookseller had her problems -- the most pressing of which concerned her son-in-law Baldomer, a hippopotamus, employed in the diplomatic service. With little knowledge of etiquette, Baldomer embarrassed Madame by his appalling table manners. So intriguing were her tales of woe that Mistigri became more and more curious about the mischievous Baldomer. Just when Mistigri begins to question the animal's existence, Baldomer is jailed in the city zoo for breaking traffic rules. Mistigri and his friend Soledad are initially unimpressed with Baldomer. But when the hippo is recalled to Africa by his government, they follow and become involved in a series of outlandish adventures, sure to win a new audience of enthusiasts for this kind of fantasy. The combination of preposterous situations and controlled writing add another dimension of humor.