When I woke up I was a hippopotamus, written by Tom MacRae and illustrated by Ross Collins

when i woke up

When I woke up I was a Hippopotamus!

Yawning in the morning, I raised up my sleepy head,

then took one look out of the window and got straight back into bed.

Honestly, doesn’t everyone have mornings like this?

And thus begins the story of an imaginative kid going through his day.  Or, if you’re a parent, the saga of getting a dawdler through his day (and, believe you me, it’s a saga).

What can I say?  This book is great.  It has fantastic illustrations, decent rhymes, hipster parents (see below – also, dad wears a vest at breakfast).

i was a statue
Heroic efforts by hipster parents to pull immobile child to school.

It doesn’t dumb down the vocabulary, so will grow with your kid. And, it is completely, 100%, realistic:

  • Kid impossible to get out of bed in the morning?  Check.
  • Kid too distracted to eat breakfast?  Check.
  • Kid walks either painfully slowly (or not at all) or whizzes off so fast that you can’t keep up?  Check.
  • Kid spends class time bouncing off the walls and terrorizing teachers and fellow students?  Check.
  • Kid wreaks havoc in the home while playing?  Check.
  • Kid does this all with no malice, but as a side-effect of living his or her imaginative playful life?  Check.
  • Parents lay down the law and kid is (relatively) angelic for the balance of the day?  Um.  Well, this is a story so has a happy ending for all.
  • Kid goes to sleep, peacefully – the best and only acceptable ending (in my view) for a book to be bedtime-worthy – and has amazing dreams.

Did I mention that our kid loved it?  He loved it.  We borrowed it from the library and it was on regular bedtime rotation until it was returned.  He especially, I like to think, looked forward to amazing dreams.

Read it, read it, read it.  And then, if you are the sharing type, read it to your kid(s).

Rating: A-.  The “minus” is because I don’t think it is a full-out classic must-have.  Also, the kid “tells off” his teacher, which is not something I necessarily want my kid to learn from a book read at home.  He’ll learn it soon enough.

Reading Ages: Our kid is 2.  I think this would take a kid into Grade 1 or so.  It doesn’t have much story or plot, so beyond that it would depend on the kid and whether they are reading it themselves or want to really look at the illustrations.

Note on the illustrations:  I like them a lot.  That said, these aren’t the kind of illustrations where a kid would sit for hours just poring over them (cf. Richard Scarry’s Storybook Dictionary).  But they are detailed and interesting enough that our toddler was stopping to look for awhile at every page, which is saying a lot for a toddler.

Phrase in the book I would like our toddler to learn:  “Does not compute.”  But only if he says it in a bleepy robot voice.

Do hippos really like to sleep in?:  Without having done the research, my guess is “no”.









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