Hippopotamister

John Patrick Green. First Second, $17.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-62672-200-2
Hippopotamus follows his friend Red Panda into the working world after conditions at their zoo deteriorate. It’s Red Panda who nicknames him Hippopotamister—it’s more appropriate when they’re among humans, he says. A self-effacing fellow, Hippopotamus worries on their first day in a restaurant kitchen. “How do I know my food will taste good?” Yet his delicious-looking Hippopasta Primavera shows natural talent. Brash Red Panda—“Trust your instincts, Hippopotamister. Mine never fail me”—not so much. His antipasto consists of “red vine licorice, mushrooms, and car keys.” In a series of comic episodes, the two are hired and fired from a string of jobs. When Hippopotamus returns to the zoo, though, he has assembled the skills he needs to turn the place around—and there’s a special job for Red Panda, too. Green’s (Teen Boat!) characters burst with personality, his comedic sense shines, and his visual storytelling skills are solid. It’s not until well into the story that readers begin to see where the characters’ foibles will take them. The payoff’s unconventional, too, the prospect of a career that’s both meaningful and satisfying. Ages 5–8. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/22/2016
Release date: 05/10/2016
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