cover image Sharko and Hippo

Sharko and Hippo

Elliott Kalan, illus. by Andrea Tsurumi. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-279109-2

Well-oiled comedic dialogue by Kalan (Horse Meets Dog) starts with a bang as Sharko and silent sidekick Hippo ready themselves to fish. When Sharko tells Hippo to launch the boat, Hippo reaches into a pocket and finds... a goat in a swimming costume, a plump bag of oats, and Sharko’s polka-dot coat. Sharko asks for a fishing pole, and Hippo successively hands over a banana peel, a pail, and a plow. Readers stay laughing as Hippo brings still more rapid-fire confusion to the demanding Sharko’s fishing trip. (His final grin explains why.) In amusing, heavy-lined illustrations by Tsurumi (Crab Cake), the duo’s gymnastic eyebrows express myriad emotions as Hippo rummages around in multitudinous coat pockets. Movie buffs will identify the source of Hippo’s silent humor as Harpo Marx, the contents of whose pockets often provided gags in Marx Brothers films. Kalan and Tsurumi pay homage to humor that fights bossiness with anarchy—Hippo may look foolish, but it’s Sharko’s plans that are utterly, gleefully foiled. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Sept.)