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WHEN I WOKE UP I WAS A HIPPOPOTAMUS by Tom McRae

WHEN I WOKE UP I WAS A HIPPOPOTAMUS

By Tom McRae (Author) , Ross Collins (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7613-8099-3
Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Collins’ artwork serves as an immediate draw to this rambunctious tale of a comically shape-shifting young boy.

Energetic illustrations, laden with emotional expressiveness, chronicle the various creatures and things into which the boy morphs, reflecting his changing moods throughout a day. He wakens as a rhinoceros, because, as everybody knows, rhinos don’t like to get out of bed. Once up, he changes into a robot, because robots don’t particularly like breakfast. At school, he is a monkey before becoming a monster, and so on from there. MacRae’s rhymed text is a happy, singsong affair with a few challenging atonal moments that will get readers thinking about meter in poetry. There is a good deal of “telling off” in the tale—which evidently is an expression less vibrant in England, where MacRae lives, than in the United States, where something like “I couldn’t sit and listen, / and my work was rather slack. / And when the teacher told me off— / I told her off right back!” might be thought a little cheeky for even a monkey. But the boy becomes milquetoast upon a change of form in his parents—here there be dragons—shape-shifting himself into a kid, and a sweet one at that.

A sweet, if literal exploration of changing moods, it will likely have readers imagining their own transformations. (Picture book. 4-9)