“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Monday, August 4, 2008

Meet the Hippos • Board Books

Hip Hippos • One Hippo Hops • Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos
By Jane Yolen • Illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen
Just out! • Key Porter Books • board books
Meet the hippos – a lovely, zany crew ready to take the youngest reader on a rollicking ride through the world of numbers, colors and feelings.

Story behind the story: Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America. She and her impressive number of children’s books have been recognized by some of the most prestigious awards given from librarians, booksellers, teachers, children and parents, including the Caldecott and Christopher Medals, countless state children’s book awards, a National Book Award nomination and Jewish Book Award, among many others. She has proven herself a true storyteller for all ages as evidenced by the tremendous sales and reception to her entire body of work. Vlasta van Kampen has won the Governor General's Award, the Graphic Arts Illustrator Award and the Blue Spruce Award.
FYI: all the review copies for these titles have been sent and reviews are in the works; please click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say about them and be sure to come back as there are more to come!


Cloudscome said...

These look great. I'm just discovering your blog from Becky's Book Reveiws. Adding you to my Bloglines now!

Lana Voss, Tulsa City-County Library said...

Who knew that Hippos could be so much fun! One Hippo Hops is a fun counting book for babies and toddlers. Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos is fun because the hippos get into trouble and wind up in the time-out chair. Many preschoolers will know exactly what the time-out chair is! In Hip Hippos each page has fun rhymes except for the ending which isn’t as satisfying as the others. The illustrations by Vlasta van Kampen are fantastic fun! Rate them #9
-- Lana Voss
Manager-Children's Dept.
Tulsa City-County Library

Nan Hoekstra said...

These books are great fun to read aloud -- the rhyming test flows so easily and introduces fabulous words to the youngest listener! Mammouth knees...dungarees! Follow...wallow! Perfectly illustrated with bright colors and recognizable objects throughout. Five stars---I recommend this as a gift to new parents - it deserves to be read and re-read and will become part of the household's vocabulary and wordplay!

Jocelyn said...

As Nan mentioned, the vocabulary is certainly creative! The hippos end up in "the wallow" on the final page of all three of these board books. While definitely fun for adults to read to babies, siblings trying to read to younger brothers and sisters may struggle with some of the words. Illustrations are very amusing - joggers in ONE HIPPO HOPS have headphones & water bottles, and "hippos stamp upon the floor" resulting in skinned knees and stepped-on thumb tacks in SAD, MAD, GLAD HIPPOS.

Jocelyn Baldwin
Caroline Kennedy Library
Dearborn Heights, MI

Anonymous said...

Jane Yolen and Vlasta van Kampen team up for a triple dose of board books featuring quite loveable hippos. "Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos" features five hippo friends and their search for fun on a gray day. "One Hippo Hops" introduces counting concepts through adventurous activities. "Hip Hippos" dress up for dancing, rodeo, and fishing. The text uses fairly simple rhymes, though occasionally stretches rhythm, making read aloud efforts a bit stumbling. Each book ends in a similar way, inviting young listeners to join in with the reader. The illustrations are charming, warm, and engaging. a spread of one hippo trying to get jeans on over it's ample rear is hilarious.

Katie O'Dell
Multnomah County Library

Brannin said...

My two and a half year old son didn't really enjoy listening to these books. I liked the illustrations and found them to be realistic and very detailed. The illustrations really make these books. Though Jane Yolen uses a wonderful collection of vocabulary, I found the rhythm and rhyme of all the books to be a bit choppy and am disappointed by it. I would say that overall, these books are mediocre and I would not recommend them to my friends or family to buy.

Brannin Dorsey
Kindergarten Teacher
Parkmont Elementary
Fremont, California

Beckyb said...

These are MAGNIFICENT!!! I am always on the lookout for new "catchy" board books and leave it to Jane Yolen to start us off with a new series that is just superb!! Her Hippo Board Books are now some of my new favorites! One Hippo Hops, Hip Hippos, and Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos all are introduce us to the crazy hippos! They focus on numbers, colors and feelings and, I hope, many other topics as well! Vlasta van Kampen is the illustrator, and she just adds to the fun of these books.

Becky Bilby, Youth Services Librarian Orange City, Iowa


Laura said...

As an unapologetic lover of all things hippo, I was delighted by these sweet board books. It’s tough not to giggle at Vlasta van Kampen’s playful illustrations of long-eyelashed hippos in colorful, oversized kiddie clothes. The drawings are especially fun in “Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos,” where the hippos make faces that will remind you of the toddlers in your life. I do agree with the other reviewer who said that the rhyme sometimes seemed forced, but I don’t think that took away from the overall fun of these books. And the final refrain, in which all the hippos travel together down to the wallow, does a nice job of tying the three stories together.

Laura Koenig
Children's Librarian
Uphams Corner Branch - Boston Public Library

wisteria said...

Meet the Hippos-Board Books
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen

You can’t help but love the adorably cute and colorful wacky hippos who have emerged in Jane Yolen’s new series of children’s books. Vlasta van Kampen adds vibrantly patterned outfits to dress the hippos making them appear to pop off the page. She somehow creates telling expressions with just their two eyes; you have to see it to believe it. Yolen, as always provides the perfect text and poetic verse. Sing song rhyme that kids just love flows easily on each page. This dynamic duo has teamed up to create these quick and clever stories with unforgettable pictures. Be prepared to here pleas from kids to read the book again and again. The hippos have friendly fun with numbers, colors and feelings. Strongly recommended for parents and teachers of pre-school and kindergarten when using concept books to teach counting, colors and feelings.

Donna Lynn Edwards
Media Specialist, Danbury CT

wisteria said...

My apologies, I typed my blog URL incorrectly. It should read:

Cheryl B said...

A intriguing trio of books. Great for little hands. My favorite - One Hippo Hops - has the hopping rhyme to go with the title. Hip Hippos seems to struggle a little when compared with the others. I like the introduction of aome unfamiliar words. Still, a great addition to storytime collections. I would use them in a Mud Themed storyhour along with:
Stuck in the Mud by Jane Clarke,
Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde, and
Ducky Dives In! by Richard Waring, (especially the wallowing part!)
and have the kids wallowing all over the floor!

Cheryl Blankenship, Children's Librarian, Briggs Library

Amanda said...

All librarians love Jane Yolen right? I've read her for years, but never really got into the board books until recently...boy was I missing out! I just got the chance to review her Hippo series of board books, which I think are perfect for babies and toddlers with the hippos counting, learning colors, and presenting different emotions to the reader. The kids get to learn some things while looking at the adorable illustrations by Vlasta van Kampens, plus they can chew on the books without destroying them. Always a plus with a teether in the house!

Amanda Snow
Alamogordo Public Library

Yankeerat said...

As a confessed board book snob, I expected more from these—especially when I saw Jane Yolen’s name attached to them. The three books do what I feel board books should do—present simple ideas and concepts to children who are not yet reading, but still learning each time they come in contact with a book. They present numbers, emotions, and colors, and they do it, admittedly, with charm, thanks to the humorous and expressive illustrations by Vlasta van Kampen (I particularly liked the hippo mermaid in "Hip Hippos".) But with the exception of "Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos", the text is pedestrian, lacking all the wit and cadence of Yolen’s Dinosaur books. Excellent rhyming verse should read as if writing it was effortless, not as if anyone could have written it. So while these books are cute, there is the feeling that they could have achieved so much more.

K.S. Dean
Youth Services Librarian
Walpole Public Library
Walpole, MA

Anonymous said...

Jane Yolen and Valast van Kampen teamed up for three hippo board books. The vocabulary is difficult to illustrate and the rhyming seems forced. The illustrations are wonderfully amusing, but I don't see an accurate cue in the picture to give a young reader a clue to what the word may be. An adult reading the text would have to point out the connection to the vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

This trio of Jane Yolen books are great fun, but not as engaging as I had wished. Preschoolers occasionally giggled during a read aloud. Of the three books, the children enjoyed Hip Hippos the most as they adored the silly hippo costumes. Color identification was difficult as each page represented many colors in each illustration; theme color was not in isolation. Overall rating would be a five. I can think of numerous other rhyming books that would satisfy any preschoolers desire to read a book over and over again, just not these.

KD, Burlington, VT

Anonymous said...

I meant to rate these books a 2....not a five. So sorry.

Heather said...

While the hippos are charming characters illustrated with interesting details, I don’t think this is a successful board book series. Often the rhymes fall flat, sometimes the illustrations do not adequately show the actions and at other times even seem to mis-interpret the text.

Hip Hippos is my favorite of the three titles. It includes a great illustration of a hippo slurping spaghetti – how often do you see that?

One Hippo Hops is another counting book. It does not stand out from the many counting books available. In fact, a few of the actions associated with the numbers, such as jog & trot, will be difficult for young listeners to interpret from the illustrations (though they would be fun to act out together).

Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos is the least successful title. On the page with the text “Hippos mad, hippos sore, hippos stamp upon the floor” the illustrator has included one frustrated hippo, one distracted hippo combing her hair while stamping on the floor, one stepping on a tack, and one with a hurt knee. While the text seems to be about anger, the illustrations are all over the place. Or maybe I am using an antiquated definition of ‘sore’?

Picnic Basket Rating: 2

Children's Librarian

Library Guide said...

The bright pictures and simple text is a nice match. I like the uncompromising vocabulary and the pictures while simple offer things to talk about outside the text. Sad, Mad, Glad Hippos is perhaps the weakest. It's hard to identify the more subtle emotions on the hippos faces.
Chilldren's Librarian

Barbara said...

This series was not my favorite . I would have expected more from something by Jane Yolen. In choosing books to read for my storytime, I look for something laugh out loud funny, highly interactive, or something with a highly engaging theme to which my preschoolers can relate. While these books are fun, they are not outstanding and do not meet my criteria.

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