cover image Little Hippo Starts

Little Hippo Starts

Maryann Macdonald. Dial Books, $10.95 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0720-7

With his new shoes, new pencil box and a special lunch packed in his backpack, Little Hippo is all ready for his first day in first grade--except he is a bit nervous. (He hopes that the shoes are like everyone else's and that the pencil box contains the right equipment.) Big brother Howard doesn't help matters when he warns Little Hippo to avoid mean, ugly Miss Rhinoceros--who of course turns out to be Little Hippo's teacher. She is hardly the villain, however: that role belongs to a tiger named Cynthia, who ridicules her forlorn classmate's shoes and tells him to draw a funny picture of the teacher. She then shows it to Miss Rhinoceros, whose hurt feelings are assuaged by one of Little Hippo's chocolate cupcakes, as he lets her know he understands that ``first grade is not easy.'' Without whitewashing the potential perils of a first day at school, Macdonald's warmly reassuring story is ably abetted by King's cheerful, vibrantly colored pictures. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)