cover image Hippo! No, Rhino!

Hippo! No, Rhino!

Jeff Newman, . . Little, Brown, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-15573-1

In this near-wordless book, a sky-blue rhinoceros gets mistaken for another sort of beast. The trouble starts when a groovy long-haired zookeeper, idly whistling and blasé about his job, designates the rhino's stone enclosure with a red arrow reading "Hippo." The rhino, and two leggy purple birds on its shoulder, regard the sign with chagrin. When a society matron, in a dialogue bubble, pinches her nose and says "Hippo," the rhinoceros cries, "No, rhino!/ Fix the sign-o!" Its outbursts scare off several visitors, and the tiny birds fail in their attempt to knock down the sign. Finally a sympathetic boy in a sunny yellow coat—who has noticed the zookeeper's carelessness since the copyright page—quietly sets things right, and the rhino and birds can finally relax. (In the punch line, readers find out the lackadaisical keeper has labeled the unhappy hippopotamus "Porcupine-o.") Newman's (Reginald ) full-bleed watercolor spreads emit a '70s retro vibe, with animals and humans pictured in a rainbow of hot colors on clear white pages. His saturated hues of rusty orange, violet, turf green and aquamarine suggest Eric Carle's tissue-paper palette and layering technique. Newman takes the single joke as far as it will go, and youngsters will enjoy being in on it from the beginning. Ages 3-6. (July)