Two anthropomorphic animals meet unexpectedly and quickly become friends despite their differences.
Mouse is placidly painting atop a rock when suddenly it shakes, and Mouse is thrown into the lake. Struggling and sputtering, Mouse is rescued by Hippo, the “rock.” Grateful for the help and flattered by Hippo’s praise, Mouse decides to paint a picture of Hippo. Hippo, inspired, returns the favor. Their enthusiasm for each other’s extremely original, if unconventional, artistic efforts cements their friendship. The straightforward plot is conveyed entirely in dialogue with individualized typefaces and colors used to distinguish the speakers. This variation serves to emphasize the characters’ physical differences (brown-furred Mouse’s is spindly and brown; gray Hippo’s is gray and chunky) as well as making it easy to follow the action. Although the story moves along briskly, Twohy effectively creates distinct—and distinctly charming—personalities for his characters through their speech. He also showcases their creativity and problem-solving without being in the least didactic. His crisp, cartoon-style illustrations complement and extend the humorous text. Bright colors, black outlines, and plenty of white space keep the focus squarely on his two protagonists.
While there are plenty of picture books that feature unlikely friendships, young listeners will be pleased to make the acquaintance of these two cheerful creatures and, quite possibly, inspired to view the world in engaging new ways. (Picture book. 4-7)