Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

I've Lost My Hippopotamus

I've Lost My Hippopotamus

Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator:  Jackie Urbanovic 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
HarperCollins Books, 2012   ISBN: 978-0062014573

You only have to look online to see that many people find animal stories, pictures, and videos entertaining. People share these things using social media, and in just days everyone knows about the panda who got her head stuck in a box or the cat who stole the dog’s bed and refused to give it up. Animals doing funny things appeals to people, which is why this book will delight children and adults alike. It is full of funny animals, and funny people interacting with animals. Oh, and then there are the poems that are just about funny people who somehow manage to be funny even though there are no animals around.

   The first poem is about a girl who has lost her hippopotamus. It is hard to imagine how one could lose such an enormous animal, but this girl has managed it. The situation is so bizarre that she thinks that something is “fishy” and that some “unsavory subterfuge” is at play. What we know, thanks to the accompanying illustration, is that the girl’s hippo is not very far away at all.

   If you thought having a pet hippo was odd, then you should read the next poem. In this one you will meet someone who is wishing that the day would get more interesting. It has been a rather humdrum day so far, what with “fish in the treetops,” “owls underwater” and cows and elephants who are flying around. If this is a normal, boring sort of day, what would an interesting day in this world look like?

   Obviously, Jack Prelutsky has the gift for coming up with the most extraordinary ideas. Pet hippos and fish in trees are just a few of them. He has many more. For example, have you ever wondered what it would be like if pigeons weighed as much as pigs? No, neither have I, but Jack Prelutsky has. What should a person do if  pigeons weighed as much as pigs and “dragonflies were dragons,” and if caterpillars were as big as wagons and alley cats were as big as lions.

   Pig-sized pigeons are interesting, but going to a store to buy a dragon is surely even more so. In “Shopping at a dragon store,” the poet tells us all about a visit to a dragon store and how he tries to find a “very special kind of dragon,” the kind that he can take home.

   Some people have a gift for being amusing, for taking just a few lines of words and creating something that tickles people’s giggle spots. Jack Prelutsky is just such a person, and in this collection of more than one hundred poems, he gives readers more than one hundred reasons to smile. His poems are accompanied by line drawings that perfectly capture the essence of the poems, and that often contain a little joke of their own.