Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch

Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch

Harvey Hippo Picture Books Book 2

Children - Animals
30 Pages
Reviewed on 04/29/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

An unusually high degree of attentiveness is required when creating a children’s book, especially one directed at a very young child – a book like Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch by Lisa Sankar-Zhu. The skills required are more diverse than those needed for adult fiction. The author must provide the most concise narration possible, with no room for excess ornamentation, and she must provide (either on her own or in collaboration) a simple but complex visual presentation to accompany the words. The child must be able to understand immediately the facial expressions on all the characters – what they are thinking and feeling – and he or she must be able to relate. Finally, the author is challenged to present a child’s lesson clearly by example – using simple words and pictures – without becoming preachy. As if that were not enough, the truly great children’s book must make the child laugh at least once during the reading.

Lisa Sankar-Zhu succeeds admirably in Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch. As might be readily surmised, the story is about a young hippopotamus who invites a new friend to his house. His parents expect a girl hippo to appear, but the nature of the guest surprised even this old adult and made him laugh. To reveal it here would ruin the story. Suffice it to say the friend provided a challenge of acceptance for the parent hippos, and a lesson for any reader.

Ms. Sankar-Zhu hits all the necessary points to gain the reader’s interest: the characters and scenes are rendered masterfully, even including a memorable ceiling point-of-view, with the expressions of every character clearly defining mood and moment; the narrative has a changing rhythm that prevents the lulling cadence so often found today in children’s books, and she concludes her book on the kind of toddler cliff-hanger designed to keep the young reader’s mind enthusiastic and curious. And yes, the child is guaranteed to laugh.

Katelyn Hensel

Lisa Sankar-Zhu's latest children's book is fun, bright, and exciting. In Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch, young Harvey Hippo makes new friends, and he and his family learn a little bit about diversity and friendship along the way. Harvey's new friend is not what his parents were expecting. Still, Harvey and Crissy get along great and Harvey's mom and dad end up liking her after all.

The writing emphasized sounds and speech patterns, which may build well upon younger children's vocabularies and abilities to begin pronouncing harder words. The artwork was digitally created in bright primary and illuminating colors. I enjoyed the pictures, and they are large enough for younger children, while the prose was moving up to more kindergarten and first-grade children.

While the story is not complicated, there are several messages that I was able to take away from this book. First was that if you are having friends over, you should clean your room and help your parents by cleaning up the house. I'm sure all moms and dads will love it if their kids pick up on that message. The second was that even if someone is different, it's still possible to be great friends. What a wonderful message and a fun book to read to your kids. I think this would be best for kids to read on their own in kindergarten, or for parents/adults to read to younger listeners.

Jack Magnus

Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch: Harvey Hippo Picture Books, Book 2 is a children's animal picture book written by Lisa Sankar-Zhu. Harvey has a new friend named Crissy, and he's thrilled when his parents let him invite her over for lunch. Then he looks at his room and realizes that it's really way too messy and not something he'd want Crissy to see. So, he cleans up his room, and then he helps his mom get the rest of the house ready for their guest. He sweeps floors, wipes counters, dusts and mops. When he was helping Mom set the table, they heard the doorbell ring. Now, Harvey's mom had asked some questions about Crissy earlier, and both of his parents were confused by Harvey's description of his new friend. After all, how many hippos were tall and thin with long noses? But neither of them expected just who or what Crissy actually was.

Lisa Sankar-Zhu's children's animal picture book, Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch, explores diversity and the evolution of gender roles in a most fun, educational and entertaining way. I loved how Harvey didn't see the physical differences between his and Crissy's appearances as anything that would take away from their friendship and enjoyment of each other's company. I found art imitating life in this fable as diversity and acceptance are indeed flourishing in the classroom and in playgrounds. I also appreciated how Sankar-Zhu's young hippo felt right at home with household chores as he works with his mom to get their house looking nice. As in her first Harvey Hippo picture book, the artwork is wonderful, especially the varied and eloquent facial expressions of her characters, and the bright and colorful panels found throughout the work. Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch: Harvey Hippo Picture Books, Book 2 is a marvelous tale about an exceptional young hippo, and it's most highly recommended.

Hilary Hawkes

Lisa Sankar-Zhu’s Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch is a colorful and very funny picture book story for children. Harvey’s mom and dad are happy for Crissy, Harvey’s new friend, to come round, but but get a shock when they see Crissy. Crissy does things differently – but then to Harvey’s and everyone’s delight, differences turn out to be okay after all. The visit is such a success that Mom and Dad say yes to yet another new friend’s visit – Lester.

What a wonderfully happy and entertaining story for young children. The plot bounces along as Harvey gets ready for Crissy’s arrival. Like Mom and Dad, we are oblivious to the surprise they are in for. I loved the moment of surprise when they open the door to let her in. There is a lovely message in this story about inclusion and accepting differences because, despite their differences, Harvey and Crissy are good friends and have lots of fun together. I love the way Harvey hasn’t focused on the differences – he just sees the friendship. He is full of surprises too (and what child isn’t!), and this gives the end of the story a brilliantly unexpected ending, leaving us to anticipate what might happen next.

Harvey Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch is illustrated throughout with colorful, bright and attractive artwork that depicts the characters’ personalities and actions, and complements the story perfectly. Lisa Sankar-Zhu’s story is lots of fun, beautifully and uniquely told, and perfect for sharing with a child or reading aloud to a group of children too. Most definitely recommended.

Rachel McGrath

Harvey the Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch by Lisa Sankar-Zhu is a beautifully illustrated picture book aimed at early readers and parents who are looking for an enjoyable bedtime read. Harvey is a hippo and naturally his parents expected his friend to be a hippo. Harvey is certainly a likeable character, with a messy room and all, and children will relate to this fun and friendly hippo. When Harvey's friend arrives, it is the parents who are at first surprised. They quickly learn that Harvey’s new friend Chrissy is fun and friendly, and they readily accept her.

The author has done a wonderful job of bringing to life a very accessible story for young children about meeting new friends and also a message of acceptance. The illustrations are colourful, bold, imaginative and really well done. The book formats perfectly on a kindle with the text embedded into the illustrations, which will make it accessible to those who want to read on a tablet or paperback.

I would highly recommend Harvey the Hippo Invites a New Friend to Lunch to parents and children alike. This story will create good conversation starters about accepting differences, not making judgments on first appearances, and looking at the person within, whilst also providing children with an enjoyable and relevant read that they will want to read again and again.