The zoo isn’t what it used to be. It’s run-down and falling apart. 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.
About the Author
John Patrick Green grew up on Long Island and has worked in New York City since graduating from the School of Visual Arts with a degree in graphic design. He was the comics consultant for Disney Adventures magazine, where he wrote and often drew the popular Last Laugh feature. John is the co-creator and illustrator of the graphic novel series Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden and Teen Boat!, both with writer Dave Roman. He has also worked as a writer, illustrator, or designer on comics and graphic novels for Nickelodeon Magazine, DreamWorks, Scholastic Graphix, and DC Comics. John lives in Brooklyn with zero cats and way too many LEGOs.
Source: Publisher for Review
Published: May 10, 2016
Hippopotamister is an exuberant story about one hippo’s search for the perfect job. With bold shapes and bright colors, the book brings readers along with Hippo and Red Panda as they seek to blend into the human world and sample a variety of human jobs–all of them poised to become the best job ever.
Though the outcome of the story is predictable in the sense readers will probably will able to guess what job Hippo will decide on as the best, the journey is still a fun romp. Hippo and Red Panda cycle through a variety of occupations, ranging from construction worker to hair stylist to chef. Hippo has a talent for most of them. Red Panda does not, which results in hilarious mishaps given center stage in the illustrations. Readers will be rooting for both characters, however, as their optimism is contagious.
The book will speak equally to children and adult readers, though I think in different ways. The opening scenes of the run-down, neglected city zoo will have entirely different overtones for adults familiar with discussions on whether it’s even ethical to keep animals in zoos; children will probably simply find it sad, and maybe a little funny that the lion has a ridiculous, mangy mane and the walrus has fish stuck in his teeth. Similarly, Hippo’s quest for a fulfilling job will read differently to working adults rather than to kids. This makes Hippopotamister a great choice for parents and children to read together.
Although the publisher’s website does not seem to use the term “picture book” to describe Hippopotamister, that’s how the book was pitched to me, and other readers are using the label on Goodreads. The book is on the long-ish side for a picture book (84 pages) and may work better for slightly older readers, even though the graphic novel style of the book means there generally are not very many words per page.
Hippopotamister is an uplifting story about friendship and finding purpose through hard work. It has an endearing story and a cute ending. I’ll be looking forward to more from John Patrick Green.