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BOOK REVIEW: Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Deborah Niland

| 1 December 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Ho! Ho! Ho! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Christmas Cake by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Deborah Niland

Penguin Books Australia
October 2018
Hardcover, $19.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Fiction / Kids & Childrens Books / Picture Books

85% Rocking

In 1980 we learned that hippopotamuses enjoy eating cake. And hanging out on roofs. This large and cute character has been an enduring one in kid’s books for almost four decades. In Hazel Edwards’s latest offering, the hippo returns with Christmas cake in hand–for a fun and festive story.

Our roof is noisy.
My daddy says there’s a man fixing the tiles on our roof.
But I know why there’s a noise.
There’s a hippopotamus on our roof getting ready for Christmas. And he’s excited just like me!

Edwards introduced generations of young fans to reading with her fabulous hippo. Her original inspiration came from her then three-year-son. He thought that the noises made by the men repairing their leaky roof were from a large, cake-eating animal. Since then, the hippopotamus has appeared at a birthday party, on the roof of a caravan, and in hospital.

The original is a classic story. The imaginary hippo got to do as he pleased while the young girl had to listen to the grown-ups. In this Christmas story, the activities performed by the boy and hippo have much more in common. While this is a nice idea, the story loses a little of the magic pixie dust that made the original one so special, because the hippo’s charm was in acting different.

It’s Christmas morning.
Santa came!
All the stockings are full. Everyone is happy and noisy. There’s a big present for me from hippo!
And there’s a hippopotamus on our roof opening the present I made for him.

This is a joyous little tale where the boy prepares for Christmas with his family: making gingerbread cookies, putting up the tree and wrapping presents. This heart-warming book introduces a new generation of fans to this loveable character. A nice stocking stuffer, this volume is like a little slice of Christmas cheer because it sums up everything that is great about the holiday season.

Once again, Deborah Niland provides the simple but effective illustrations. These complement the prose quite well. The story also has a lovely cadence to it; you can imagine youngsters learning excerpts like the following word-for-word.

My hippopotamus really likes cake.
He’s making a big Christmas cake.
I know because I heard him.
There’s a hippopotamus on our roof icing his Christmas cake.

Christmas is an exciting time of year and Edwards captures this really well here. This is a rich and colourful story – and like its predecessors – it should entertain young hearts and minds with its quirky charm. This is a well-timed romp around the Christmas tree.

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Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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