Today is the Sixth Carnival of Children's Literature, this time hosted at Castle of the Immaculate, and through it I found this lovely review of Hippo! No, Rhino.
The publication story of this book is fairly straightforward--one of our designer's, Saho, had a friend whose boyfriend was an illustrator, and Saho asked me if I'd like to look at his book ideas, so I said yes. Hippo! No, Rhino was one of the ideas and I instantly fell in love with the project.
This almost-wordless book starts off with a clueless zookeeper named Randy mixing up the signs and putting a sign saying "Hippo" at Rhino's cage. Poor Rhino! His expression of dismay is priceless. Here's how the text goes after that:
Blue lady and old man in green: "Hippo."
Rhino: "No, Rhino!"
Rhino: "FIX THE SIGN-O!"
a couple pages later...
Green teen and girl with glasses: "...Hippoooo"
Rhino (nicely): "Noooo....Rhinooooo."
Rhino (not as nicely): "THAT'S NOT MINE-O!"
You get the idea. The art is bright, vibrant, and retro, reminiscent of such classics as The Little House and Eric Carle (as suggested in the Publisher's Weekly review). To me, it's the perfect picture book. Fun and distinct art, it stands up to repeat readings (there are so many clever details in the art), and the illustrations and text are perfectly matched. Since the moment I saw this book, I felt it had the potential to become a classic.
Hippo! No, Rhino should be available at your local independent bookstore! (yes, that's a hint)
Have a great weekend, everyone!