It's time for the school Christmas party. Two grade school-aged girls ask their moms if they can have a sleep over; since one of the girls, Kay, will soon be moving away, the moms readily agree. The girls play together, and the author ("I") digs up some sheet music so they can go caroling that evening.
In the meantime, a bus driver is ending his day and picking up miscellaneous things left behind in his bus. Among them is a stuffed purple hippo, which he recognizes as belonging to Kay's little sister's. He's concerned, because he'd like to get the toy back to the girl before she moves. But when he drives to Kay's house, it's dark and empty, with a "Sold" sign out front. He calls the school, but everyone is away on Christmas break. So he brings the toy home and tells his wife about it. She suggests they pray, asking God to help them reunite the toy with it's young owner.
Later that evening, the driver is surprised to find Kay on his front porch, caroling.
"He quick grabbed the hippo,
embraced her with love,
wished her a blessed Christmas
and looked up above.
'God you care 'bout our hippos.
My mind cannot conceive
how much more you'll provide
if we'd only believe.'"
What I Like: This is a cute story that reminds children God cares about everything in our lives. We should never worry about praying on "the little things." A great message, told in a way that's very kid-friendly.
What I Dislike: This book was self published with help from Thomas Nelson, a well known Christian publisher. Unfortunately, Thomas Nelson did little to ensure this book didn't suffer from the many plights of self published children's books. One of these is the illustrations by Staci B. Desautels. They are cute and fun, but they don't look professional. There are also some punctuation and grammar errors - although none so egregious that it's difficult to read the story. Finally, the book is written in rhyme - and while the author does a better job at this than most newbies, I believe the story would be much stronger if it didn't rhyme.
However, I think The Christmas Hippo is a worthwhile story, despite its flaws.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: I'd say about 4 - 8
Publishing Info: Westbow Press, 2012; ISBN 978-1449724740; paperback, 28 pgs., $16.95
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