cover image Fiona the Hippo

Fiona the Hippo

Richard Cowdrey. Zonderkidz, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-310-76639-1

Cowdrey (Bad Dog, Marley!) takes an anthropomorphic approach to Fiona’s story by introducing a cast of talking zoo animals eager to meet her. Fiona is rendered with a big smile, long eyelashes, and a chunky pink-gray body. Cowdrey conveys the excitement surrounding her birth (zoo attendees in scrubs surround Fiona, taking pictures on their cell phones), and describes Fiona’s developmental milestones: she drinks from a bottle and learns to walk and swim. The other animals, which include a tortoise, flamingo, giraffe, and bear, are as captivated by Fiona as her human fans—and Fiona finally wants to meet them, too: “ ‘Did you hear that?’ ‘It’s our turn to play with the baby!’ ” Though Cowdrey doesn’t give readers much sense of the peril Fiona initially faced, the exuberant animal characters offer an engaging introduction to her story. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)