________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 19 . . . . May 22, 1998

cover Hippo Beach.

Pierre Pratt.
Toronto, ON: Annick, 1997.
41 pp, hardcover, $12.95
ISBN 1-55037-419-2

Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 2 - 7.
Review by Leslie Millar.

**** /4

image The near-wordless Hippo Beach is an exercise in imagination that travels to the sublime and the surreal. The story opens showing the top half of a hippopotamus sleeping in a lush, lagoon-like cove. The next page shows the sun just beginning to rise, the hippo's eyes open, and the text "Today is Sunday." There is no more text until the end of the book. Time passes - the sun moves across the sky. The hippo yawns, and his tooth-studded, gaping maw becomes a shoe, then a shoe being lifted from the water by a fish hook. The dripping shoe is righted and becomes what it very much resembles in profile, a red race car. The car putt-putts out of the picture. The reader is left alone for a moment, and then the hippo comes swimming back. He spends his idyllic day transforming himself: a hotdog, shark, or traffic-laden bridge: none are beyond his reach. And finally, he is just a hippo, sleeping under a sliver of moon in a night blue sky.

      The next sunrise shows the hippo brushing his teeth, combing his hair, and heading off for what must be school. [The ruler poking out of his backpack is the clue.] The story ends with text, "And already, Jeff is dreaming about next Sunday."

      This is an interesting book and more complex than it looks. The predominant blues and greens impart the sensibility of an abundant, tropical, water-world. Every page is framed in black. Another black line denotes the horizon, separating blue sky from green-tinted water. Some pages are of the empty lagoon. The effect is of a pause or breath, a moment where ideas are born. I found myself looking, and looking again, to discover at what exact point the hippo started to look like a fright steamer, or a shark's fin. Pre-readers and readers will enjoy examining this book closely. The concept is sure to elicit conversation about the surprising potential in daydreams. It will likely inspire some young illustrators to explore the fertile ground of their own imagination. Highly recommended.

Highly recommended.

Leslie Millar is a mother and substitute teacher.

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

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364