PreS-Gr 1 The true story of the African baby hippo that was separated from his mother during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 and then bonded with a giant tortoise is one that has endeared itself to many. This version is a bit too endearing. Bauer's symmetrical text gives the basic facts, compressing details in order to draw clear parallels between the hippo's activities with his mother and then with the tortoise. The author uses repetitive phrasing to convey the severity of the situation: "The rain fell and it fell and it fell. The Sabaki River rose and it rose and it rose." While this is a time-honored narrative device, when combined with Butler's soft-focus, anthropomorphic artwork, the effect is cloying and monotonous. The scenes, rendered in acrylic paint and colored pencils in a gray/brown/pale-lavender palette, feature animals that smile continuously, even during the storm. For strong visuals and a conceptually satisfying account, stick with the striking photographs and sensitive narrative provided in Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu's Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (2006) and its sequel, Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship (2007, both Scholastic), reviewed in this issue."Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library"
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