Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green hardcover
The zoo isn't what it used to be. It's run down, and Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he'll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He's a good employee, whether he's a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.
Gr 1–4—In this colorful step into the graphic novel format for younger middle grade readers, pages with panels are interspersed with full-page illustrations in a humorous tale of friendship and adventure. Red Panda and Hippopotamus live in a run-down zoo until Red Panda decides to leave and get a job among humans, eventually convincing Hippo to join him. Red Panda gives Hippo the moniker "Hippopotamister," claiming this will help him fit in with humans. Silliness ensues as the two try a variety of jobs, almost all of which Hippopotamister miraculously excels at while Red Panda fails spectacularly. So many failures have to add up to success eventually, don't they? Indeed, Hippopotamister brainstorms a way to use skills developed in the human world to help his animal friends back at the zoo. Readers will root for modest Hippopotamister as he loyally tolerates his bossy friend. Drawn in graphite and digitally colored, the artwork is bright, clear, and enticing. In one charming spread, Hippo mopes on a rock in the urban zoo; his worried expression turns to enlightenment as the sun sets, the sky darkens, and city lights come on in the background. While the text includes a smattering of sophisticated words, the characters and situations will appeal to younger readers, making this an attractive option for children who read at or above grade level but still prefer books with colorful pictures, funny characters, and innocent story lines. VERDICT A fun and engaging selection for readers just venturing into graphic novels.