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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hippos Are HUGE! Written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Matthew Trueman. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $19.00 ages 4 and up

"Hippos are HUGE!
Except for elephants,
no other land animals are
as large as the hippopotamuses.
They can weigh as much as
fifty men!

A full-grown bull weighs
up to 4 tons and can be 12
feet (almost 4 meters) long."

Tell me that cover illustration is not a perfect invitation to get kids into this terrific new book by Jonathan London, and I will tell you that you don't know kids who love knowing more about animals than they already know. By the time you have finished reading, I think even you will know some extremely interesting facts about hippos that you hadn't realized.

"The two bulls turn
and stand rump to rump.
Then they swing their tails
like baseball bats and
swat balls of dung
at each other -


It's a
smelly message ... "

The close-up mixed media image will have some kids howling with laughter and others completely disgusted. Hopefully, they will also be intrigued by the information shared. We find out that while hippos are 'huge', they are also graceful, communicative, dangerous - assumed to 'kill more people in Africa than any other wild animal does.'

In large (and often LARGE) font, the author converses with his audience in a series of interesting facts, questions, exclamations! In a much smaller font, positioned at a variety of spots on single, spot and double page spreads, we learn even more gripping details.

Fun to read and cleverly designed, this is a terrific introduction to the hippopotamus. Matthew Trueman's artwork is filled with detail, close-up observation and textures that give a true sense of the hippos' hides and almost amiable countenance as they glide gracefully through the water, lumber about on land and delight in a mud bath.

 An index and an author's note are included.

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