Monday, October 17, 2011

A Hippopotamusn’t and Other Animal Poems

A Hippopotamusn’t and Other Animal Poems

By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Victoria Chess

Readers Guide by
Lauren Maxon

Lewis, J. Patrick. A Hippopotamusn't and Other Animal Verses. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1990.

Recommended Age Levels 6-12

Summary of Book 
A Hippotamusn’t and Other Animal Verses is a clever poetry book about animals. Lewis covers over thirty different animals with his silly and fun poems. The rhyming text and fun rhythms in many of the poems makes this book a great beginning poetry book for young children. The layout of the book gives each poem its own page and the illustrations on each page are delightful. The illustrations of each animal are detailed and they vary in design. From tempera paint to colored pencils the illustrations complete this wonderful book of animal poetry.

Review Excerpts
“…all [poems]are brimming with puns and good fun.”
-Publisher’s Weekly    (
“An entertaining collection of poems, cleverly illustrated.”
-School Library Journal, Susan Scheps    (
"A collection of marvelous light verse as fresh as spring".
-The Horn Book, starred review    (@Google.books)

•    School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
•    Booklist Editor's Choice
•    Ohio Reading Circle Award
•    Kentucky Bluegrass Award nomination, 1991

Before Reading Aloud
•    Before reading the book ask children to think of their favorite animal. Then have children write down some unique traits about their favorite animal. After reading the book ask if their favorite animal was in the book and if it was were their traits similar to those in the book?
•    Ask children what is the funniest thing they have ever seen an animal do and have children write about it before reading the silly animal poems.
•    Give children a few of the animals found in the book A Hippopotamusn’t and ask children to find rhyming words to go with each type of animal. Children may come up with a list of rhyming words alone or in a group.

Suggestions for Reading Aloud
•    Each student may select a poem from the book. Each child should select a different poem unless children outnumber the poems in the book. Children will read their selected poem aloud before the class until all poems have been shared.
•    Give each child a picture (or a few pictures) of animals found in the book. Have the children listen as you read aloud and when they hear the poem that matches their picture have them hold up their picture for the class to see. This encourages students to actively listen and participate in the read aloud.
•    Have each child prepared with pencils (or crayons, colored pencils, etc.) and a sheet of paper. Ask the students to draw pictures of the animals as depicted in the poems as you read aloud. For example, if an animal is dancing encourage the student to draw a dancing animal. This encourages the student to continue listening as well as to comprehend and possibly better retain the material that was read.
•    Have students play bingo as you read the book. Make a bingo card with made of different animals (pictures or words) and have the students mark the words off as they hear them in the book. This activity will encourage children to really listen to the words as you read the story.
•    Puppets are a great way to make this book a fun read aloud for younger students. Students can take turns using the different animal puppets and can read along with you using the puppet as you read about that particular animal.

Follow Up Activities

•    After reading A Hippopotamusn’t have children draw a picture of their favorite animal and write a poem to go along with their illustration. Make sure children think about traits that actually represent their chosen animal when writing their poem.
•    Have children write about an animal that is found in the book. The paper should be a research paper with accurate facts about the animal they chose from the book.
Social Studies
•    Have children look up and research where each animal in A Hippopotamusn’t can be found in its natural habitat.
•    Have children look through the book and choose their favorite poem. Then ask children to make a drawing depicting the animal and the poem they chose.

Related Websites/Blogs
•    Nesbitt, Kenn. Poetry 4 Kids. 2008. (accessed 10 19, 2011).
•    Check out this website for great poetry resources for kids. This site contains resources to help children write their own poetry or just gives information about poets and their works.
•    Lewis, J. Patrick. J. Patrick Lewis Children’s Poet and Author. 2009. http://www/ (accessed 10 19, 2011).   
•    This website contains information about J. Patrick Lewis and his many books and accomplishments for those who enjoyed A Hippopotamusn’t and would like to read more of his works.
•    Poetry Archive. The Children’s Poetry Archive. 2005. (accessed 10 19, 2011).
•    This website is exactly as the name suggests. It is a website dedicated to archiving poetry from a multitude of poets for children.
•    Discovery Communications, LLC. Animal Planet. 2011. (accessed 10 20, 2011).
•    Animal Planet is for those children who like a Hippopotamusn’t because of the animals. They can delve further into animal research and facts.
•    National Geographic Society. National Geographic Kids. 1996-2011. (accessed 10 20, 2011).
•    This website is also helpful for those kids who enjoy reading about animals. This particular website for National Geographic is targeted specifically for children.

Related Books

•    Hughes, Catherine D. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals. Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2010.
Nonfiction works about animals
•    Worth, Valerie and Jenkins, Steve. Animal Poems. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.
A related poetry book about animals.
•    Kuchler, Bonnie Louise. Just Kids: Pictures, Poems, and Other Silly Animal Stuff Just for Kids. Minocqua: Willow Creek Press, 2003.
An animal poetry book.
•    Chorao, Kay. Jumpety-Bumpety Hop: A Parade of Animal Poems. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1997.
Children’s poetry book with poems about animals.
•    Cole, William. A Zooful of Animals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
A collection of animal poems for children.

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