________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 15 . . . . March 16, 2007


What a Hippopota-Mess! (Orca Echoes).

Pat Skene. Illustrated by Graham Ross.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
62 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-402-5.

Subject Headings:
Animals-Juvenile poetry.
Children’s poetry, Canadian (English).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Lisa O'Hara.

**** /4

Pat Skene's rhymes and Graham Ross's illustrations combine to make this a terrific book for kids.  The book is made up of six poems on topics as varied as hippopatmi (and their messes) and dandelions. Following each poem is a section giving information about the topic of the poem, either in the form of a Q&A or as a sort of "did you know?" section. The poems are lots of fun with great rhymes and funny or silly situations, like these verses found in the poem from the title "What a Hippopota-Mess:"

He chased me with his hippo feet.
"Wait up!" he said. "My name is Pete!"
And then he dragged me by the seat
right back into the bay.

Pete swam the hippopota-stroke.
He held me in a hippo-choke.
I gave his meaty ribs a poke.
He made a grunting noise.

That's when Pete's hippopota-pal
said "Hiya, Bud! My name is Sal.
I'm just a hungry hippo-gal.
And I eat little boys!"

internal art

This section of the poem is illustrated with a drawing of a boy frantically clutching a tree while a hippopotamus is pulling him into the water by his pants. The illustrations throughout the book are clever and funny. For the section, "An Interview with Pete and Sal," which follows the poem, Ross has penned a picture of a person in black facing two hippos sitting in directors chairs and wearing sunglasses - amusing for grownups and children:

How big are you?

Pete: I guess I'm about the size of an average car. But I weigh more than three cars put together. We hippos often have vicious fights with other creatures and with each other. We have big tusk-teeth too. It's no wonder we scared poor Bud.

     This book is funny and informative, and it would be great to read-aloud in a classroom setting or at home.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa O'Hara is a mother of three and a librarian in Winnipeg. MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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