Friday, February 6, 2015

The Little Hippo and One Night, Far From Here

The Little Hippo is a children's book published by Prestel. When you think of Prestel, you don't normally think of kids books, but instead art or photography books. The illustrator of this book, Anja Klauss, based her illustrations on the ancient style of Egyptian art. This story, written by Geraldine Elschner, begins by telling about a time in Egypt when blue hippos populated the Nile River. The youngest one, called Little Hippo, became friends with a man named Antef. As quickly as we learn of their friendship, we learn that Antef has died and is placed inside a pyramid. Little Hippo decided to lay down beside him and slept for centuries. Eventually he was woken up by archaeologists. Little Hippo discovered that instead of growing, he had shrunk. Using his size, he escapes and embarks on a journey to find his family and friends. The rest of the book tells of his epic journey, which you'll have to read to see how it ends.

The colors on the page are bold and vibrant. They go from a beautiful blue, like the hippo on the cover, to a vibrant red that seems to set the page on fire. The hieroglyphics and Egyptian-style art make the whole book a work of art. The story is also cute, but subtly educational. Your children won't realize they are learning about ancient Egyptian culture, archaeology, artifacts, and art. If all Prestel kids books are this high of quality, then I plan on getting a few more and using them with my son as gentle introduction of art and other cultures. Five stars!

One Night, Far From Here is a 14" x 10.5" inch picture book that takes your children through various ecosystems at night. They move from an African Savannah to a Russian Taiga to the Amazon Rainforest to the ocean and finally end up in a North American Forest with a girl reading the very same book. Along the way, the words of the story points out various wildlife, native to these ecosystems. There are spider monkeys, giant squids, snow owls, and wild boars. What makes the book unique is the layout. Each region begins with two acetate (plastic) pages. The first page is mostly dark and reveals tiny creatures like birds and insects. The second acetate page illuminates more over the scene, showing both flora and fauna. Turning this page takes you to the paper page which brings the whole scene in view. At the end of the book is two-page spread, which labels all the animals you and your child could have potentially seen. This encourages you to recall the pages and go back and look through the book again (not that you need motivation to visit this book more than once). This is a book you and your child will visit time and time again, not for the words of the story but just the beautiful book. If you have a child who loves books (whether they can read yet or not), you will want to get them this treat for the eyes.

These books were provided to me for free by Prestel and Flying Eye Books in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!