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The Dancing Hippo
Story by Bright Hawk; Illustrated by Amanda Moore
We journey to Africa, with all it’s sounds and beauty, at sunset with a full moon rising. All the animals are jamming and our main character, Mvuu Kutamba, a hippo, finds themselves in a Hippo Dance Trance! Just then, elephants come down to the watering hole where this is all happening and the bull elephant announces loudly for everyone to hear, “Hippos cannot dance!” Ending the bliss bubble of joy and leaving the hippo to wonder what they did wrong. After a mud bath and a bit of time, the hippo comes out of the water and is visited first by the honey bee who reminds the hippo, sometimes life stings and sometimes life is sweet! You decide! And asks, What are you willing to beee? And the hippo decides to be “Delightfully surprised by how sweet this life can be!” One night, during a new moon, the firefly arrives to tell the hippo, “Only you Can Shine your Light!” And the final visitor is a butterfly, who reminds the hippo, “Transformation happens! Each in their own way encouraging the hippo to be themselves and do what makes you happy! By the next full moon rise and sunset jam, the hippo is transformed and ready to do a hippo dance trance! The moon even sends a moonglow necklace. And this time, when the elephants arrive, the bull elephant notices and says, I guess hippos can dance! And they dance into the night…
What makes the story special is that it has no genders, no gender pronouns, intentionally so every child can see themselves in every character. The illustration by Amanda Moore is exceptional and transports the reader to Africa.