HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Ruby and the Noisy Hippo
Author and Illustrator: Helen Stephens
Publisher: Kingfisher, republished in 2001
ISBN-13: 9780753452264 (hardcover)
ISBN: 075345226X (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0753406236 (paperback)
ISBN-10: 0753406233 (paperback)
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 3 to 10
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Stephens, Helen. Ruby and the Noisy Hippo (published in 2000 by Kingfisher). When our boys were learning to read, we liked to get fun books for beginning readers, usually from the library, for them to practice on. In Ruby and the Noisy Hippo, Ruby has a friend named Hippo who follows Ruby everywhere. However, Ruby finds Hippo¹s loud, clumsy singing simply too embarrassing. La! La! La! Bang! Bang! Bang! Ruby allows Noisy Hippo come with her to the candy store but only if he stays quiet. He agrees, but as they walk, he starts singing. Then as they reach the telephone booth, he sings at the top of his voice. And when they reach the bus stop, he’s singing and stomping his feet. Well, that’s it for Ruby. She’s embarrassed and tells him he’s no longer welcome to join her. Hippo is hurt and follows Ruby secretly.
When a greedy, candy-eating monster comes along, confronts Ruby, and tries to steal her treats, Hippo’s loud noises save the day. Ruby decides that it’s okay to be noisy sometimes and learns to accept her friend’s foibles when she discovers true character is far more important than appearances. They return home together singing and stomping all the way. This picture book aims to teach children to value their friends and speak out against bullies. One reviewer noted, “Our morals are challenged when reading this book. When we have an embarrassing friend, should we still cleave to that person or should we make every effort to be cleft from him or her?” Helen Stephen’s first children’s book, I’m Too Busy, was published in 1998. Her work was selected for display at the Images 23 Exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London, England.