‘What is it, little one?’ said Egret.
‘Well,’ said Holly, ‘Honey was best at staying under water, and Heath was best at chasings. I want to be best at something too.’
Holly has fun playing with her hippo friends Heath and Honey, but she is never the best at anything. No matter how hard she tries, one of the others always outdoes her. Each night her wise friend Egret reassures Holly that she is the best at something, but Holly has no idea what that something is. When she does figure it out, she is finally the best.
Tricky Little Hippo is a gorgeous new picture book from the team of author Jane Bowring and illustrator Nina Rycroft. Youngsters will delight in the gentle humour of the tale, which has a subtle message about hidden talents and the notion that every child has unique abilities.
The design of this book is a treat. The watercolour illustrations are in rich pastels – with the browns of the hippopotamuses contrasting with the greens and blues of their surrounds. The two double page spreads of Holly swimming underwater, surrounded by golden fish and with the legs of her unsuspecting friends in the background, are especially clever. Another nice touch is the presence of Egret at times when Holly seems unware that he is there, suggesting that he is looking out for her, without interfering.
This is a lovely story for shared reading and would make a good bedtime story, suitable for two to five year olds.
Trciky Little Hippo, by Jane Bowring, illustrated by Nina Rycroft
Koala Books, 2005