This clever tale’s theme—that perfection isn’t important—is a significant one for kids who are afraid to make mistakes.


A princess learns the importance of not being perfect in this picture book.

Princess Hippopotamus feels a lot of pressure to be perfect. She wants to grow up to be a good queen, and the only way she thinks she’ll accomplish this is by becoming a model princess. She studies hard; she practices public speaking. She embroiders, even though she’s not sure what that has to do with being a monarch. Her troublemaking brothers invite her on their adventures, but she wouldn’t dare cause a ruckus. One day, she finds her two brothers throwing water balloons from the tallest tower. But instead of behaving impeccably, she makes a surprising choice: She hurls a water balloon. When her balloon falls on Uncle Tutu’s new hat, it’s a disaster, and she flees. But her father convinces her that, while she deserves punishment for ruining the hat, she doesn’t have to always be perfect—because her mother wasn’t, and she became a good queen. The book’s layout could better balance the text and images of Otto’s (Blueberry, 2016, etc.) original princess tale. But for kids who feel a lot of pressure not to make errors, Princess Hippopotamus’ panic will likely resonate, and the comfort from her father should be reassuring. The hippos are amusing, both in the pictures and text, and their oversize shapes should have readers giggling. Debut illustrator Korniienko’s cartoon images, which feature a comically Disney flair, are sure to appeal.

This clever tale’s theme—that perfection isn’t important—is a significant one for kids who are afraid to make mistakes.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-977621-90-0

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mead-Hill

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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