Bigness Contest

Bigness Contest

by Florence Parry Heide, Victoria Chess

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beasley the hippopotamus longs to excel at something-- anything --but is stymied by his size: he fails miserably at athletic contests and can barely squeeze into his outfit for the Best Costume Contest. When sympathetic Aunt Emerald stages a Bigness Contest, Beasley wins a blue ribbon--but he must relinquish it when his lazy cousin Borofil emerges at long last from his customary spot in the river and proves to be the biggest of all. Beasley decides to join Borofil and practice being lazy, and in due course wins the Laziness Contest and a ribbon he can keep. Despite lots of appealing silliness and laconic humor, the story, with its rather plot-heavy and diffuse ending, is not as sharp or satisfying as Heide's best. Chess, who illustrated Heide's Tales for the Perfect Child , adds greatly to the comedy, her art helping to sustain some sparkle to the end. Her oversized, pink-bellied protagonists are both endearing and just a tad gross; her African landscape features brilliant grasses and bits of exotic vegetation; and her supporting characters, from the formidable, lorgnette-wielding Aunt Emerald to a beret-wearing hippo painter, contribute spice of their own. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-The author of The Shrinking of Treehorn (Holiday, 1971) has shifted gears to create Beasley, a hippopotamus whose aim is to grow as large as possible. Disappointed that he never wins anything, he is encouraged by Aunt Emerald, who says,"`you can always find something that you can do well.'" She holds a ``Bigness Contest'' and he is declared the winner...until his huge cousin Borofil, who was too lazy to enter the competition, comes out of the water. All ends well, though, when a second contest declares Beasley the laziest of all. Beasley is a lovable character with a sincere heart. The excellent, detailed watercolors complement the humorous, polished prose and portray happy, well-adjusted characters. The setting's jungle greens predominate and are highlighted by the watermelon-pink underbellies of the hippos. The hero's determination coupled with Chess's unequaled illustrations make this a story-time crowd pleaser. No contest.-Lynn Cockett, Nutley Public Library, NJ
Hazel Rochman
Role models and positive thinking are the butt of Heide and Chess' latest wicked parody. Hippopotamus Beasley worries that he's too big to be good at anything. He desperately wants to win first prize and get a blue ribbon, but he's too clumsy for the gymnastics contests, and everything's too small for him in the costume competition. His gracious Aunt Emerald encourages him to try; there's always something one can do well, "that's what contests are for." They decide on a Bigness Contest; he gives up trying to diet and exercise; he eats and eats--and wins. "So what?" says his cousin Borofil, who just sits all day in the river. Beasley decides to follow his cousin's example and practice being lazy. He gets so good at it that he even beats Borofil. Chess' garish illustrations of a tropical paradise with bright green palm trees and cavorting pink hippos bring out the general foolishness of all the striving. The Best Costume contest is won by a hippo dressed as a fairy queen, and the huge mournful faces of the losers will remind kids of the beauty pageant and wrestling ring. Silly humor can do a lot for self-image.

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Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
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1st ed

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