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Elmer and the Hippos

Elmer and the Hippos

By: David McKee
Publisher: Anderson Press USA
Publication Date: September 2010
ISBN: 978-0761364429
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 4, 2010

Elmer, the patchwork elephant, was having a friendly get together with a couple of friends, Lion and Tiger, when three REALLY mad elephants came stomping up to talk to him. Well, those elephants’ eyes were so wide they looked like they were going to pop out any minute. They told Elmer that the hippos had decided to come live with them in their river and they were going to have none of that. Elmer, who was kind and gentle, said that he would go talk to them. The hippos, who were all taking a dip in the elephant’s river claimed, “we know we’re not wanted here, but our river has dried up and we have to have a river.” Mmmmm! That was a problem so Elmer agreed to talk to the elephants.

The elephants, who looked very uncomfortable about the whole situation, agreed to let the hippos stay. There certainly wasn’t going to be much room in the river with both elephants and hippos in it. The elephants were simply not into sharing with goofy looking hippos. When Elmer went to look at the hippos’ river, it was dry as a bone with nothing but rocks scattered along its bed. When he went to the cliffs he could see the real problem and a little bird told him that “The rocks fell and stopped the river.” Everyone was going to have a lot of work ahead of them to move those rocks. Elmer even stopped to ask his cousin, Wilbur (who looked like a checkered black and white floor), for help. Would the hippos be able to clear the rocks all by themselves or would the elephants chip in and help them with the job so they could get their river back?

This is a wonderful story about how Elmer and his elephant friends set aside their prejudices to help some hippos in need. Most children, not unlike adults, have prejudices that they need to overcome in order to learn to cooperate and deal with others. Sharing is also a difficult concept to learn and combined with prejudice, it creates an even more difficult problem. Of course charming, gentle Elmer, accompanied by his black-and-white checkered cousin, Wilbur, offer up a perfect solution to this sort of problem in the form of a cooperative effort. The artwork is colorful and very jungle-fun appealing. This would be a perfect book to read and discuss during circle or story time. For that matter, it is one of those perfect stories to read any time!

Quill says: Elmer, the patchwork elephant, has been a wildly popular critter for many years. If you haven’t had a chance to meet up with him and cousin Wilbur, you don’t know what you’ve been missing!

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