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Zippo the Super Hippo by Kes Gray; illustrated by Nikki Dyson (2015)

[Published by MacMillan]

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I am no child psychologist, but I can tell from the cover alone that Zippo is going to be a hit with the young ‘uns. “How Lucy? How do you know this?” Well team, I can guarantee that any book with the phrase “Bottom Power” on the cover, which features a large hippo in underpants will be instant “read it again” material.

Zippo the hippo has a hankering for being super, for having a super power to be more precise. By process of elimination, he and his friend Roxi hit upon flying as the perfect power for him.

“You’re right!” said Zippo. “If I could fly, I could get a super cape and some super boots and I could fly 20150729_082518around the world being Zippo the Super Hippo!” Zippo’s attempts at launching himself elegantly in the air fail miserably, ending each time with a giant splat, and an animal squashed beneath his admirable bottom. In good news, it turns out that super bottoms can be quite a weapon against misbehaving animals. And so, Zippo the Super Hippo is born.

There are all sorts of goodies hidden in the pages of this beautifully illustrated, hilariously told story. Come on down Zippo, we’ve saved you a place in the inner circle of friends here at myfriendlucy!

Check out Zippo the Super Hippo at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Zippo the Super Hippo from Fishpond.

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That’s what makes a hippopotamus smile! by Sean Taylor; illustrated by Laurent Cardon (2014)

[Published by Frances Lincoln]

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So far this year we’ve established that elephants can’t jump, but did you know that hippopotamuses can smile? Well according to today’s hilarious picture book they can, and apparently it’s not that hard to encourage their toothy grins; opening the door wide, playing splishy sploshy games, running a good warm bath and feeding them salad-treats is all it takes. Your house may end up slightly compromised through this process, but come on, it’s gotta be worth it in the pursuit of hippo happiness.

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Thank you Sean and Laurent, I now feel sufficiently prepared to send out an afternoon tea invitation to the hippos at my local zoo.

Check out That’s what makes a hippopotamus smile! at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy That’s What Makes a Hippopotamus Smile from Fishpond.

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Hippobottymus by Steve Smallman; illustrated by Ada Grey (2015)

[Published by Little Tiger Press]

hippoWell that was unexpected! I often power-read through my latest stash of picture books, and sometimes like today, a farting hippopotamus is my punishment for not paying attention!

I love the rhyme and beat of this story, I could read books like this aloud all day.

“A mouse sat down by a bubbling creek –

The creek went bubble and the mouse went squeak!

Squeak, squeak, bubble, bubble, squeak, squeak, squeak.

Squeak, squeak, bubble, bubble, squeak, squeak, squeak!”

More animals join mouse and his rocking tune with centipede kindly providing the rhythm with his tappity feet. It’s something of a symphony and the animals congratulate themselves on their beautiful music. Mouse is about to be hailed as the party starter, but up pops Hippopotamus, pronouncing himself the IMG_1780inspiration behind the melody. And while I may have slightly given away the punchline in my introduction, I will say no more, leaving you to discover the full extent of the hilarity for yourselves.

The animals are wonderfully illustrated, their enthusiasm is contagious. I have a series of good words for this one, rollicking, and rocking and of course parpingly good fun!

Check out Hippobottymus at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Hippobottymus from Fishpond.

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Night watch by Phil Cummings; illustrated by Janine Dawson (2013)

[Published by Working Title Press]

nightWhat do you get if you cross a giraffe, a hippo and a baboon? You’ll just have to read Night watch to find out!

On nodding acquaintance only, Baboon, Giraffe and Hippo live busy lives co-existing but rarely speaking. (Strong parallels with modern life?) When a slinky lion hovers on the edge of their world, team-work becomes essential.

Thanks to a cunning plan from Baboon, Lion is so frightened by his encounter with a noisy multi-headed beast, he never bothers our jungle friends again.

A younger audience will love the beautifully depicted IMG_1510animals and hilariously scary beast. The gentle but essential message about team-work is one that could be explored further with a slightly older crew. Something for everyone!

Check out Night watch at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Night watch from Fishpond.

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The first hippo on the moon by David Walliams; illustrated by Tony Ross (2014)

sheilaHigh fives all round team. Six months is officially done and dusted, only six more to go! Thanks for hanging out with me during the first half of this crazy ol’ challenge. I wish it was feasible to give you all a giant piece of cake, but a celebratory book review will have to do instead.

David Walliams is something of a legend. Having starred in Little Britain, he has turned his hand to writing mostly fiction for kids. I’ve heard him compared to Roald Dahl more than once and looked forward to my first sampling of picture-book-David-Walliams a lot.

Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III is a rich hippo with a plan; to be the first hippo on the moon. Simultaneously2015-01-25 16.36.00 Sheila, the not-so-well-funded hippo hits upon the exact same scheme. The two hippos go about their dream-fulfillment in very different ways.

Sheila’s dung-fuelled rocket has a few mishaps but eventually “Dream Big” blasts into outer space, hot on the heels of Hercules and his flashy ship.

“To her astonishment Sheila had landed on top of the other hippopotamus, just as he was taking his very first hippo-po-step on the moon’s surface.”

You will have to get your hands on a copy of this great book to find out who emerges hilariously as the victor! Tony Ross is a master illustrator, and so many of the details crack me up, from flying sandwiches to Sheila’s choice of outfit for her space adventure.

Okay so I’m not exactly the first hippo on the moon, but I feel like Sheila and I would definitely be buddies. As soon as I saw the name of her rocket I knew this was the perfect book with which to celebrate today’s happy-making halfway mark.

Check out The first hippo on the moon at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy The first hippo on the moon from Fishpond.

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Tiny little fly by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Kevin Waldron (2010)

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Is this not a truly magnificent cover? I’ve gotta say, I had a sneaking suspicion that this book wasn’t going to end well for the fly. Okay I should probably admit I pretty much hoped things were going to end badly for the fly (hey, we’re heading into summer here in New Zealand and flies are buzzing around the edge of my equilibrium again.)IMG_1112

Tiny little fly lands on Elephant’s nose.

“Great Big Elephant

Winks one eye,

Says to himself,

“I’m going to catch that fly!”

Because flies are sneaky and speedy, and very hard to catch, in spite of the determination of the hippo, elephant and tiger, Tiny Little Fly remains entirely unscathed. This is a beautiful combination of a great repetitive story, and amazing illustrations. It is in a lovely large format making each page particularly striking.

A librarian told me she created her own fly on the end of a satay stick and buzzed around the audience while telling this story. Another good one!

Check out Tiny little fly at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Tiny little fly from Fishpond.

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Hide and seek Harry around the house by Kenny Harrison (2014)

Harry the hippopotamus not surprisingly is terrible at hide-and-seek. To be fair it was never likely to be one of his strengths, he’s not exactly built for squeezing into tight spots. It in no way quashes his enthusiasm for the game however!

“Harry is our best friend. Hide-and-seek is always on his mind. He tries so hard to hide – and he thinks he’s tough to find.”

I found this super short but super sweet board book absolutely hilarious and an audience of littlies is likely to do so as well.2014-10-17 22.54.49

With a nice tight rhyme and just ten pages, it’s perfect for the youngest of audiences. The
only disadvantage is that as a board book it’s in a pretty tiny format, so a challenge if your audience is big.

Check out Hide and seek Harry around the house at Auckland Libraries.

SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE!

I’ve been asked for books-as-presents advice lately, and as Christmas isn’t far away, here are my top picks of board books to give as presents to babies. I’ve included links that will take you through to Fishpond. On that note, in the interests of honesty, I’ve signed up to Fishpond’s affiliate scheme so if you buy anything from them via my blog, I take a cut. Feel free to buy from your favourite bookstore instead!

Hide and seek Harry around the house by Kenny Harrison (funny)

Where is the green sheep by Mem Fox (consistent customer favourite)

Sleepy kittens by Cinco Paul (with interactive finger puppets)

Baby faces peekaboo by Dawn Sirett (for babies who love looking at pictures of other babies)

That’s not my Santa by Fiona Watt (part of a series of popular titles, with a little Christmas action)