cover image Hildegard Sings

Hildegard Sings

Thomas Wharton. Farrar Straus Giroux, $10.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33242-6

Wharton's engaging first book spotlights a voluptuous hippo named Hildegard Rhineheffer, who dreams of opera stardom as she serenades customers in the Italian restaurant where she works. She gets her big break when the lead in a Wagnerian production falls ill, but, overcome by stage fright, she loses her voice. Neither food nor cough drops nor lucky charms can restore the aspiring diva's glorious tones; her only hope lies in porky tenor Bartholomew Bacon, who devises a solution just as the curtain rises. Humorous, bright watercolors skillfully capture facial expressions and thoughts: an enthusiastic Hildegard rehearses while serving spaghetti, a mortified Hildegard imagines herself before a tomato-pitching crowd as a cane threatens to yank her offstage. Capable of amusing any aficionado of inspired silliness, this lighthearted and triumphant tale is not over 'til Hildegard sings. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)