This children's picture book is a classic, and has just been re-released for its 30th Anniversary. Thirty years of delighting children is an amazing record, and I believe Hippo will be as loved by today's generation as he was in 1980.
There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake was written by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Deborah Niland and this edition was published by Penguin Group Australia, 2010. It's a beautiful hardback book with a sparkly textured hippo on the cover, but the original story and illustrations are just the same, just as charming.
Why has this book been such a success? It's always been one children love to hear read aloud, or learn to read themselves. Edwards' story is simple and puts us squarely in the viewpoint of the young narrator. It reads well, with lots of repetition, and situations like a ladder-climbing hippo to make us giggle. But above all, I think it's that children relate to Hippo as a character who can do what he likes. Who wouldn't love an enormous cake-eating friend who gets to watch TV when he wants, ride a bike anywhere, and work at the zoo, watching people? Even with the busy life he leads, Hippo is always a mate, offering sympathy in times of trouble.
Niland's illustrations are large, clear and strongly coloured. Characters' expressions are unambiguous so that children relate to them instantly. There isn't a lot of detail - just enough to support the story and intrigue the viewer.
Books like There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake give confidence to young readers. The simple repeated patterns never sound stilted, but make it easy for beginning readers to predict and read. Mums and dads will enjoy reading it aloud, and enjoy the humour on a different level to that perceived by their children. This 30th Anniversary edition would make a great choice as a gift to begin a toddler's library of excellent literature, or as a robust addition to school or local libraries.
Catch a teaser trailer of the forthcoming movie release of There's a Hippoptamus on Our Roof Eating Cake at Pocket Bonfire. Or read more about Hazel Edwards, her awards and amazing career as a writer, on her website.