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.