need a smile? you might try hippos…

Hippos lend themselves to ridicule, don’t you think? Their protrusive snouts, bulgy jowls, zeppelin-sized bellies, stubby legs, and cavernous yawns are an open invitation to comedy. 

James Marshall's George and Martha stories are always a good idea.

James Marshall’s George and Martha stories are always a good idea.

Do you need some laughter in your household?  I’ve come across a few hippo-centric stories lately that might be just the ticket!

thats-not-a-hippopotamus-cover-imageThat’s Not a Hippopotamus!, written by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis
published in 2016 by Gecko Press

The gang from Ms. Whiskersniff’s Class 2B are on a field trip to Don’s Safari. Jovial Don greets them at the front gate with the flamboyance of a used car salesman. “We’ve every creature in the land!” Don exclaims. But young Ralph doesn’t believe it. “That’s a lie! A whopper, Miss! He’s got no hippopotamus!”


Don insists he does, and zoom! off goes 2B, over the hillsides of Safari-land to track down that portly fellow.

The most revved-up, loudest of these kids make a lot of miscalculations, however, careening from one animal to the next, sure that they’ve spotted it now. But “that’s not a hippopotamus!” is the repeated chorus. Meanwhile one quiet, observant soul does indeed espy the hippo all along the way, attempting in his soft-spoken voice to alert the teacher, but utterly drowned out. Can you spot the hippo, too?


Madcap fun. A jolly whirlwind of commotion in both the rollicking rhyme of the text and the exuberant, humorous illustrations. Great for ages 3 and up.

veronica-cover-imageVeronica, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
originally published in 1962; reissued in 2016 by the Bodleian Library

The masterful line of Roger Duvoisin is reason enough to scarf up any of his titles. Such fluid confidence and aplomb.

This treasure from over 50 years ago is the story of Veronica, a hippopotamus who feels much too inconspicuous among her dozens of relatives on the cool, muddy banks of her home river. Veronica has the inner urge to be, well, famous! And that requires conspicuousness.

So off she goes to town. A “pink and white city” that she bumbles across where she is gloriously conspicuous.


Veronica goes her merry way, stopping traffic, parking her commodious body in no parking zones, frolicking in fountains, gorging on the contents of the vegetable-man’s cart, until the police come after her with a great deal of sternness. Suddenly, being conspicuous is not exactly the most propitious quality!


Follow dear Veronica’s escapade in this vintage charmer. It’s gallons of fun for ages 3 and up.

hippospotamus-cover-imageHippospotamus, written by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross
first published in Great Britain; American edition 2012 by Andersen Press USA

“Hippopotamus had a spotamus…on her bottomus.”

Oh dear.  It’s quite unsightly, that ill-placed red blotch. Whatever could it be?

Weasel thinks it’s measles. “You sat in a breezle and caught a diseasel,” he says. He’s got a treatment plan for that, too, but alas! it is ineffective. Maybe Fox knows more about it.


Entertaining wordplay and Seussical rhymes cavort through the text of this funny story about that blasted red spot. Lots of folks have opinions and remedies, but the spot won’t budge. A small boy finally saves the day. You won’t believe what it turns out to be!

Comical, bold illustrations match the text perfectly. You cannot help but smile reading this clever nonsense! Ages 3 and up.