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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
Huberta the Hippo: Amazing Adventures of a Happy River Horse (Africa's Bravest Creatures Book 1) by Patricia Furstenberg is a charming tale about one of South Africa’s iconic animals, a hippo from Zululand. During a three-year period in the 1930s, Huberta (originally thought male and nicknamed Hubert by the press) roamed more than a thousand miles along the African coast. In the process, she became a celebrity and a symbol of hope during times of economic depression, attracting crowds wherever she went. Many wondered what caused a hippo to travel so far from its home. Furstenberg explores the theme of curiosity about the world and following one’s dreams in terms readers can understand. Photographs of hippos in natural settings add to the reader’s enjoyment.
Written in flowing and rhythmic free verse and loose rhyme, Huberta the Hippo paints a picture of a happy animal who enjoys the simple things in life. Though the story is short, I found it engaging on several levels. It made me curious to learn more about Huberta and her history as well as hippos in general. It also provides an opportunity for adult and young adult readers to think about the concepts of happiness, home, curiosity, exploration, adventure, and following one's dreams. I especially like the personality that Furstenberg attributes to Huberta. She loves the simple things in life. For example, Huberta turns down an invitation from the wife of the mayor of Durban to join her reading club for tea, preferring instead a swim in the river and a grassy dinner afterward to tea and cake. An entertaining read.