The Barnes & Noble Review
A toe-tapping hippo discovers the bliss of water ballet in this rollicking picture book by Karma Wilson (author of Bear Snores On) and illustrator Suzanne Watts.
Decked out in extravagant costumes -- including a flowery leotard, a ruffled flamenco dress, and disco flare pants -- Hilda is creating a jungle-sized ruckus with her dancing. With hippo-strength "thumpity-bump" and "swisha-swisha clap" moves, Hilda shakes her groove thing, but unfortunately, the other animals have serious issues with all the noise. After monkeys and rhinos suggest she try something less disruptive (like knitting or singing), the water buffaloes propose water ballet as a possible answer. So Hilda puts on a two-piece suit and dives in, jubilantly discovering that aquatic dance satisfies her artistic streak and keeps the jungle peacefully intact and her pals cheering for encores.
Accompanied by Watts's laugh-out-loud, bubbly illustrations of African animal scenes, Wilson's delightful rhymes celebrate a heroine with style, spunk, and artistic vision to spare. With heart-shaped movie-star sunglasses and a headdress straight out of a Carmen Miranda film, this lovable hippo will inspire kids to embrace their talents and respect others, too. Watching Hilda "ker-plop" and "plunk" in the water will make young readers want to dive right in. Matt Warner
When Hilda Hippo dances, the other jungle animals cringe. For "while she danced in utter bliss,/ it sounded quite a lot like this:/ "Ka-bump! Ka-bump!/ Crash! Crash! Smash!" The earth shakes, she tramples plants and kicks up clouds of dust. The animals suggest Hilda try knitting or singing instead, but it's not until the water buffalo recommends swimming that Hilda proclaims, "Now, here's a hobby/ I adore.../ Water ballet dancing!" Although Hilda wears plenty of extravagant dance costumes, Wilson's (Bear Snores On) descriptions sometimes strain: "While Hilda danced flamenco/ in her favorite pair of heels,/ bananas fell in gooey heaps,/ shaken from their peels!" Watts's illustrations create a fantasy jungle full of bright flowers and cartoon animals, but Hilda's pink Homer Simpson-style muzzle maintains an almost uniform expression. The ending scene of Hilda performing water ballet ("Swisha-swisha clap! Clap!") provides a satisfying solution for all-readers and fellow jungle inhabitants alike. Ages 3-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Hilda Hippo loved to dance. Dressed in her favorite leotard, she practiced every day. She twisted, turned, leaped and tangoed, oh-so-joyously. As she blissfully moved her body to her own beat, the jungle floor would shake and quake. Her jungle friends would shout, "Hilda must be dancing." They tried to be patient with her and then they began to make suggestions for other activities. The monkeys suggested knitting, but she got tangled in the yarn. The rhinos thought that singing would provide a nice change until they discovered that Hilda could not carry a tune. Finally the desperate water buffaloes recommended swimming. A jubilant Hilda discovered that she could dance in the water. Soon she was swirling and twirling and splashing with glee. Delighted with the solution, her jungle friends joyfully cheered her on. Brightly colored illustrations feature a huge, exuberant hippo and her loving friends. Her attempts at various types of dances may have young readers on their feet keeping up with the beat of the rhyming text. 2004, Margaret K McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, Ages 3 to 7.
Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Not since Disney's Fantasia has there been a hippo with so much rhythm and movement. Oblivious to the effects of her heavy footfalls, Hilda dances her way through this picture book, tearing up the jungle and having a grand time. While her frustrated neighbors wish she would find an activity a little less jarring, the creature just can't seem to stop. After brief forays into knitting and singing, Hilda and the animals finally come up with a clever compromise. Watts illustrates this cartoon jungle with a palette of vibrant tropical colors and creates bold and humorous images that further energize an already active text. Told in rhyme with plenty of onomatopoeia, this delightfully noisy story is nonstop fun.-Julie Roach, Malden Public Library, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Hilda the hippo joins the corps of cows, pigs, chickens, and other terpsichorean livestock currently capering across picture-book pages. As in her deservedly popular Bear Snores On (2002), Wilson's verse swings fetchingly: "And while she danced in utter bliss, / it sounded quite a lot like this: / KA-BUMP! KA-BUMP! CRASH! CRASH! SMASH!" Watts depicts a wide-bodied, Martha-like (as in George and, not Graham) blue hippo, arrayed in leotards, Carmen Miranda wear, disco pants, and more, stylishly lumbering across leafy landscapes as various African creatures look on in dismay. Having, at the request of these last, sampled and rejected less seismic avocations ("Hilda tried to sit and knit. / She didn't like it, not one bit") she, along with her relieved audience, finds the perfect venue at last-in water ballet. Move over Olivia, Clorinda, Angelina, Red, and all you others. (Picture book. 7-9)