BIG LITTLE HIPPO
by Valeri Gorbachev
Sterling Children's Publishing
ages 3 to 12
Little Hippo is the youngest in his family . . . and the smallest. Smaller than his parents and siblings. Smaller than his friends, too, from old Crocodile to giant Elephant. And even though everyone promises he’ll grow, Little Hippo doesn’t want to wait. He wants to be big RIGHT NOW! But when he helps a creature even tinier than himself, Little Hippo learns that it’s the size of his heart that counts most of all.
This little hippo steals the heart and proves that big is all a matter of perspective.
Little Hippo is not big. He's the smallest in his family, and maybe the smallest in the jungle. All he wants is to become large, but that takes time. And he doesn't want to wait. When he runs across someone in need, his thoughts take a spin.
With gentle words and a flowing text, this is a perfect read-aloud for younger listeners. The pacing is great, never too fast and never too slow. In many ways, it has more of a traditional picture book atmosphere. After a few times going through, kids will be able to recite much of the story along with the reader (which is always fun).
The tale is simple but addresses something many younger kids worry about--wanting to be bigger. Little Hippo envelopes this desire as he romps through the jungle in the cutest way. The creatures he meets are easily recognizable, and when Little Hippo makes his discovery about size, it's hard not to feel those warm fuzzy feelings growing inside.
The illustrations are sweet, fairly simple and push the story along. There aren't too many extra details, allowing the animals to hold the attention. The colors are a little on the dim side, but this does push at those eyelids, making it a good bedtime read.
Although there's a hint at adventure, this has a gentle plot and leaves behind a simple 'feel good' atmosphere. Younger audiences (ages 2-4) are sure to enjoy it, where older ones might find it too simple.
Summed up, it's a lovely bedtime read for young listeners who enjoy animals, secure/warm thoughts, and simply wish they were a little bigger.
And here she is. . .
Valeri Gorbachev emigrated from his native Ukraine to the US in 1991 and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. He has written and/or illustrated ore than 50 children's books, including Sterling's Rufus Goes to School and Rufus Goes to Sea, written by Kim T. Griswell, and Turtles' Penguin Day and The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning (both Knopf). Valeri is available for interviews.