Look, There’s a Hippopotamus in the Playground Eating Cake By Hazel Edwards




A fun, reassuring book about starting school, ‘Look, There’s a Hippopotamus in the Playground Eating Cake’, would be a great one to read with those about to head off to school for the first time, or those changing schools, or even year levels.


The same little girl from ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’ is about to start school. She’s a little nervous, so thinks it might be a good idea for her Hippopotamus to go with her.

Throughout the school day, the hippo works alongside her in the classroom and eats and plays with her in the yard. As the day goes on, he moves from inside the room, to watching her from outside and finally, by the end of the day, when she has made a new friend, called Sam, the girl thinks her Hippopotamus might like to stay home tomorrow.


Why I love it:

As a child, I loved the original Hazel Edwards book and I was thrilled to find this ‘starting school’ version to review. It’s a lovely, reassuring story and would certainly help to ease any concerns or first day jitters. Starting school can be very nerve-wracking for some children, so having a book with a character they can relate to, and may even know previously, may be the comfort they need.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book, was that the gender equality issues and ‘dieting’ comments from the original story, are not repeated here. The girl’s parents take an equal role in helping her prepare for the first day, with the Mum making the art smock and the Dad making the lunch and both of them kissing her goodbye.

This is a sweet, comforting story that might be just what you’re looking for.


Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling nervous
  • The unknown
  • Making friends
  • Finding comfort
  • Trying new things
  • Being brave
  • Change
  • Adapting
  • Growing up
  • School
  • Learning
  • Time


Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • Do you recognise this book in any way?
  • What is the girl on the cover, doing?
  • Who is her friend?
  • How do you think they are both feeling? What makes you think this?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • Why do you think the girl wanted the hippopotamus at school with her?
  • How do you think she was feeling about starting school?
  • What were some of the things she did to get ready for her first day?
  • What did her mummy make for her?
  • What did her daddy make for her?
  • How do you think the hippo made her feeling during the day?
  • Why do you think she’s happy for the hippo to stay home on the second day?

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