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A STORY FOR HIPPO by Simon Puttock


A Book About Loss

by Simon Puttock & illustrated by Alison Bartlett

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-26219-4
Publisher: Scholastic

After his best friend dies, Monkey learns from Little Chameleon how to remember his beloved Hippo “happily ever after.” The friendship between Monkey and Hippo is well established as one between an older and younger animal, the older one filling the younger one’s days with stories. When Hippo realizes his life is nearing the end, he tries to explain to Monkey that no one lives forever and that Monkey will make new friends and hear new stories. Bartlett’s broad-stroked, color-saturated paintings of the main characters add vibrancy to the sweet text that gently allows Monkey to grieve while picturing him nearly filling the page with his tears and then drying his eyes and making friends with Little Chameleon. This same richly colored, face-front style of artistic rendering can be seen in Over in the Grasslands (2000), where similar animals frolic and loom almost larger than life. Even the end papers contribute to the setting. They introduce a light-filled water garden with active goldfish by day and conclude with a dark, shadowy water garden with partially hidden goldfish. While straightforward in approach, the message is an important one: when Monkey tells A Story for Hippo, it becomes a story for everyone. (Picture book. 5-8)