How to Clean a Hippopotamus

How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

A fascinating tour through symbiotic relationships in the animal kingdom, this book uses comic book frames and short text bubbles to become incredibly appealing to reluctant readers.  Filled with Jenkins’ paperwork illustrations that offer clarity beyond that of photographs, this book is a visual treat.  It is also filled with interesting facts, and is sure to surprise even the most informed reader with several of the relationships inside.  Journey through symbiotic relationships where one animal cleans another one to others where enemies become friends and supporters for a time.  Get this one into the hands of children who love animals and struggle with books, they are sure to feel right at home here.

Jenkins’ art is done with such confidence and cleverness.  His use of fuzzy papers to get the feel of fur, of color to get the feel of skin, and of pattern to get the texture right really take him beyond most other paper artists in children’s books today.  The fact that he manages to capture what an animal actually looks like is amazing.  Animals have a light in their eyes, a focus and in this book a relationship with each other, all captured with paper. 

The facts here are done with just the right amount of text and a playful, interested tone.  The book invites readers in and marvels alongside them.  The design here is wonderfully done, breaking what could have been paragraphs of text to wade through into windows of color filled with bite-sized bits of text that get readers wanting more.

Highly recommended, every library needs this book on their shelves.  Guaranteed to go home over and over again.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Check out another review at A Patchwork of Books.

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