cover image Hattie Hippo

Hattie Hippo

Christine Loomis. Orchard Books (NY), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-54340-8

Loomis's (The Hippo Hop) four brief, rhyming stories introduce a hippo whose personality is as outsized as her physique. Most of the comedy is familiar, and even youngest readers will spot the punch lines coming: a tutu-wearing Hattie executes a jete and makes a crash landing, the hippo invites her friends to tea but eats all the goodies herself, a bikini-clad Hattie does a cannonball in her kiddie pool thereby emptying it of water, and she plays hide-and-seek with her mother and falls asleep under the table. Loomis's rhymes stick to the literal (""Her guests arrive/ and wait and wait/ without a crumb or cup./ Oops!/ Hattie Hippo ate the cake/ and drank/ the tea all up!""). But Neubecker's (Wow! America!) watercolors are little gems. Hattie is a diva-in-the-making, as she revels in her Rubenesque figure and waves her stubby arms and legs about as if she owned the world. Ages 3-5.