By John Patrick Green
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
The zoo isn’t what it used to be. It’s run down, and Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he’ll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He’s a good employee, whether he’s a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.
Hippopotamister is a delightful romp for the young children out there. Simple in form, precise in execution, with outstanding storytelling, John Patrick Green provides a graphic novel that will delight and amuse the young reader. Strong in principles and moral values, Hippopotamister is the type of book that will stimulate young minds, as the protagonists work their way through ordeals, and come out triumphant at the end.
The storytelling is spectacular. John Patrick Green weaves a rather interesting plot around a red panda and hippo that decide the dilapidated zoo is no longer for them and venture out into the world of man. An entertaining series of job searching escapades follow. The story is tight, weaving the anthropomorphic characters quite skillfully into their setting (a generic, any big town, anywhere). The pacing, for a children’s book is quite on the ball, giving a one sitting read out of this. To encourage interactivity, First Second Books and John Patrick Green give drawing lessons any child can follow in order to draw the main characters on new, imaginative adventures. It’s this type of tight writing, with the options that more conundrums await, that will stimulate the child not only to read, but encourage them to pick up a pencil or pen and engage in the oldest form of communication: art.
As for the art in the book, it is also well done. Deceptively simple in style, but magnificent in scope, the art is what any great graphic novel calls for: simplicity. Given the aforementioned “how to draw” section of the book, the characters and their environs, must be simple enough for the child to recreate but complex enough to stimulate the imagination. Hippopotamister treads this line delicately, providing a venue that is both accessible for the young child, yet draws their imagination towards the art and the lure of creating their own adventures in and about the zoo, and the human world. Dazzling with bright colors, the art is reproducible, with naught but a pencil, eraser and any form of coloring tool. John Patrick Green shines here, giving the child grounds for amazing action above and beyond the book, but grounded in the books style. Stylistically speaking, this graphic novel propels the action and titulates the senses.
Plot wise, this is rather linear – an apt choice for the children’s market. Once free of the zoo, the job hunt red panda and what will become the Hippopotamister, a hippo, keeps the reader amused. The jaunts they have are sparklingly funny and what comes next always provides a new guffaw. The antics of the pair delight and amuse, catapulting the reader to more antics of their own devise. Hippopotamister, has an excellent blend of art and word that brings the story to life. Not much is done in the way of characterization, however, and that is largely left to the readers imagination. The moral value is kept high and the right things are done at the end.
All and all, Hippopotamister is a graphic novel that will excite any child, young or old. Equipped to teach the children to continue the adventures of red panda and the hippopotamister, through organized drawing lessons in the back, John Patrick Green proffers a delightful addition to First Second’s line of children’s graphic novels. Fitting hand in glove with Dragon’s Beware, but with its own style, Hippopotamister is a sure pick up for any young reader.