Fast facts about hippopotamuses embedded in cartoons.
Appealing cartoon illustrations of talking animals, a slim story about a lost calf, and an even slimmer joke about hippos riding bikes enliven this basic introduction to the hippopotamus family. Eaton identifies the two main species, common and pygmy hippopotamuses, and then distinguishes between the two. Each page or double-page spread includes a factoid or two describing weight, habitat, favorite foods, and behaviors. Digitally colored pen-and-ink cartoons show talking animals as well as a young white human observer. Speech bubbles and occasional text boxes add humor and further interesting information. Readers and listeners may be particularly amused by hippo bathroom habits: flicking their tails, they splatter their poop, perhaps “to mark trails or show dominance.” But there is solid, serious information here as well. “Hippos have big teeth, but that doesn’t keep them completely safe.” The author gently mentions threats to hippos, such as hunting and habitat destruction, and encourages his audience to “help by learning more about hippos and then teaching others.” In a nice touch, the concluding spread includes a review of hippo facts from the text and suggestions for further research, including lists of books for younger and older readers.
A promising first entry in a new series of picture books introducing iconic mammals to young readers with a sense of humor. (Informational picture book. 5-9)