Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are the dream team when it comes to picture books in New Zealand. They have written and illustrated so many fabulous picture books, from the Marmaduke Duck series to Toucan Can. Their books are always a joy to read aloud and their latest book, That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! is no exception. Adults and children alike will love this book!
In That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! we follow a class of children and their poor teacher on an outing to the zoo. They discover that the hippopotamus is missing and they race off all over the zoo as they try to track it down. Some of the children think they’ve found the hippo but they don’t quite get the right animal. One of the children, Liam thinks that he sees the hippo but no one pays attention to him. When it gets to the stage that the children are all forlorn and their teacher has almost had a nervous breakdown Liam finally gets everyone to listen to him.
That’s NOT a Hippopotamus is a hilarious story that will have adults and children in fits of giggles. After creating so many books together Juliette and Sarah have a real knack for creating funny, entertaining, but also very clever, picture books. The thing that makes this picture book stand out for me is that there are so many layers to it. As the children chase after different animals (thinking they’ve found the hippopotamus) Juliette gives the reader little details about each animal so you can guess what it is. There is this great sense of anticipation about what the animal will be, and you often get it wrong (which makes it even better). On one page a boy says ‘I see him Miss! He’s on the ground. I’ll get him while he’s snuffling round.’ There is an elephant’s bottom poking around the end of the page so you think it might be an elephant, but it’s actually a warthog. Another layer of the story, told through the illustrations, is Liam spotting the hippopotamus. He tells his teacher that he’s seen the hippo but she doesn’t pay him any attention. The hippo is actually hiding in the exhibits though, and if you look carefully you will spot him.
I love the way that Juliette MacIver plays with words and she has certainly had fun with this story. She has used some very clever rhyming and I love what the children yell out each time they catch an animal, ‘I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im by his trotter, Miss!’ I know kids are going to love calling out ‘That’s NOT a hippopotamus!’ too.
This is a picture book that kids will beg to read over and over again and it is one that I think adults will be very happy to. I absolutely love it!