What do hippos usually do?

A treat this week on the blog with a new post from Kylie, who has written quite a few pieces here over the years… including this one, and this one.  As she explains she has been doing some new work this year, and it is great to be able to celebrate some of the happy times she has been having there. Thanks so much Kylie for all you do – and particularly for letting us share it! Now over to the story…

I’ve been working as an Early Childhood Teacher this year which has been a satisfying mix of challenge and delight. I’m so grateful to be doing work that I enjoy after a year of study last year. One of my favourite things has been sharing my love of picture books with the three and four year olds I care for and teach. I quickly set up a regular story time which the children seem to love as much as I do. Requests for multiple readings, children ‘reading’ to each other and play incorporating themes from the book shared are common.

Last year my sister gave my niece a gorgeous book for her 4th birthday – Archie, no ordinary sloth by Heath McKenzie. It was one I wanted as soon as I saw it. I finally got around to buying my own copy last week and was excited to share it, though a little apprehensive about whether the children would love it as much as I did.

It was a huge hit! And what a gorgeous message it contains about being different. The children loved pointing out the giraffe that didn’t have a long neck, the elephant without a trunk and the zebra that didn’t have any stripes. There were giggles when we got to the page with a hippo hanging upside down from a branch. I asked, ‘What do hippos usually do?’

‘Splash in the water’ and ‘play in the mud’ came the speedy replies. Then one little boy with a huge smile on his face called out ‘eat cake!’ I was a little confused at first, unsure if he was being a bit silly. Then it clicked, ‘Yes they do,’ I said, ‘they like to eat cake when they are on the roof.’ Hazel Edwards’ book – There’s a hippopotamus on our roof eating cake – was a favourite with the group a while ago.

The delight in sharing stories lasts long after the reading! ‘Archie’ has also raised many questions for the children, ‘Why is Archie fighting the tiger?’, ‘Why are sloths so lazy?’ We have some research to do as well as many more books to share.

And ‘do hippos really eat cake?’