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The Hypotheses of Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros by Victoria Smith

It's not every day you come across a book or an author that leaves a lasting impression. Since I have come to know Victoria, she has published three brilliant books, and each book just gets better and better! Her newest release is a tongue-twisting, hair-raising, jaw-dropping work of genius–The Hypotheses of Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros! Scroll down to read the book description and my review.


Book description:

This whimsical tale from the award-winning author of the charity picture book Big H and Little h Dog will be adored by parents, children and teachers.

Join Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros in the science lab as they present ‘hypotheses’ about England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. But wait! Hippopotamus has a secret hypothesis that she’s about to share. It's so hair-raising that every living creature will stop and stare!

Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros are the utterly adorable creations of illustrator, Tracey O'Keefe, in this rhyming picture book that introduces UK geography and the basics of the scientific method.

This beautifully illustrated book: ★ puts England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on the map. ★ makes you do a little rap! ★ introduces 3 Welsh words ★ includes hippo and rhino facts ★ reveals a rhino revelation that could rock inter-mammal relations! ★ is guaranteed to make tired mummies laugh.

Ideal for fans of Lauren Child's stories and anyone looking for something a wee bit different.


Watch this video for a sneak peek!


My thoughts:

I was extremely lucky to read this book before it was published and I remember thinking how clever, hilarious, and absolutely crazy (in a good way) it was!

The first thing that captured my attention and left me mesmerised was the style of illustrations. Illustrator Tracey O'Keefe is truly talented, using mixed media to create every spread, and incorporating the text so seamlessly that they become a part of the illustrations as well. I especially liked the part where the scene was shown through 'binoculars' as it explained the process of observation, seeing rhinos in their natural habitat; and the research findings of a hair-raising hypothesis, presented in a table. In fact, there is something to love and admire on every spread. Tracey combines water colour, paint, clippings, handwritten notes and drawings, leaves and recycled materials to create collages. I imagine it must have taken a long time and a lot of creativity and effort to put this together. The result is simply a work of art and every page could be framed and put up in a gallery. Just looking at the illustrations can encourage readers to be creative too and make use of the materials they would have at home to create their own unique collages.

Victoria has a natural gift in writing, and I'm pretty sure she can write a story about anything and make it hilarious and entertaining! The whole idea behind this book is simply genius! Not only is it a whole lotta fun, it introduces and teaches readers the scientific concept of hypothesising. Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros are in the science lab discussing what 'hypothesis' means. In their adorable white lab coats, they present four hypotheses about England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales involving hippos and rhinos. Their hypotheses are rather silly, which makes for a good laugh, but they are simple enough to help readers understand the process of hypothesising and how to form and structure a hypothesis easily.

I love that the story doesn't shy away from scientific terms and advanced vocabulary, which are presented in a clever rhyme. It makes reading engaging, yet not too overwhelming for the reader. It's definitely a great way to challenge kids to read above their reading level but also to just have fun pronouncing all the tricky words, especially the second longest place name in the world with 58 letters–Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! (Do you know it? Can you spell it or pronounce it?) I still have no idea how to say it since it isn't phonetically pronounceable! However, it shows young readers that you do not actually need to be able to pronounce every single word in a text in order to enjoy reading. I thought it was so clever to include it and introduces readers to the Welsh language as well. Just this town name alone provides a new learning opportunity. As I was searching for videos on how to pronounce it, I came across a video that explained what the name means and some background information about the Welsh language. In Welsh, sometimes two English letters are used to represent one Welsh letter. While it is 58 English letters long, it's actually 51 Welsh letters (not that it makes it any easier to remember!). The letters 'w' and 'y' are also vowels in Welsh. So, even though it looks like there is a string of 14 consonants after Llanfair, there are actually four vowels.

For a bit of fun, here's a song that teaches you exactly how to pronounce this crazy long town name. If you can sing it, you can say it! And in case you ever need to hear the name spelt out, here are some football fans chanting out all 58 letters: "Give me an 'L'!" and ending with "What does it spell?"

One of my favourite parts (I say 'one of', but I think the entire book is my 'favourite part') is definitely the rap to help revise and recap the definition of 'hypothesis'. If I were still teaching in a school, I would love to hold a rapping competition for this and challenge the students to come up with their own unique way to rap it. There are so many great opportunities for teaching and learning with this book. It makes reading and learning fun and engaging at the same time. Teachers could base a whole unit of work on this book and students could even write their own reports comparing and contrasting hippos and rhinos, and coming up with their very own hypotheses to investigate. This book expertly combines multiple disciplines together with a splash of humour on every page.

  • Science - processes of hypothesising, investigating, observing and comparing and contrasting (hippos and rhinos)

  • Art - mixed media, collage

  • Language arts - poetry and rhyming patterns; language structure of a writing a hypothesis; introduction of the Welsh language

  • Music - rapping!

  • Geography and history - information about England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – their locations, landmarks, traditions, folklore, as well as culture.

The hippo's hypothesis about rhinos is bound to make you laugh, and the conclusion–after some careful investigation–is just as hilarious: a clever little joke all mummies will appreciate! I'm not going to spoil it here but hopefully you are intrigued enough to grab your own copy of this hilarious book to find out. You won't regret it!

The Hypotheses of Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros has a bit of everything and it's a book you would want to read over and over again. You will find something new to appreciate or pick up on things you hadn't noticed before each time you read it because there is so much packed into the pages.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy here: The Hypotheses of Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros


Want to know more about the brilliant author Victoria Smith? Check out her interview here:


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We also liked the video you added to the post along with the review. I really liked it because it was colorful and bright.And Thanks for sharing your view about the book


Books that can make this tired mama laugh are welcomed on my bookshelf any day! And I’m a big fan of mixed media, I find it fascinating. It’s definitely on my to-do list of things to try.


This book looks so fun. I really liked the video that you've added, it's so cool and vibrant. Also, I loved reading your review too! Thanks for sharing.


What a wonderful review! You've perfectly caught the essence of this fantastic book!


Thats a wonderful review... I liked the way you have added the video.....After reading your review I think I'll pick it up for my niece.. she will love it...

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