Big Hippo by Kevin Murmur

Circle of Life: Big Hippo, written and illustrated by Kevin Murmur, begins with a vegetarian hyena on the search for food in the savannah, an area known as Stone Peak where animals are free and safe to roam. Farther on from the hyena is a hippo laying along the shores of a large lake, where he is contemplating the argument he got in with his brother. The hippo’s brother has left and is nowhere to be found. The hippo asks an egret to help him search for his brother. Although the egret cannot find the hippo’s brother, after seeing the hyena from the beginning of the story he comes to the conclusion that the brother has been eaten by the hyena. The big hippo decides he is going to go and beat up the hyena to get revenge for killing his brother. As the big hippo runs after the hyena, his little brother comes out from the shadows and follows after him, as he was not eaten by the hyena after all.

The illustrations included in this book are very well done, painted in a calming manner that elicits a nice aura around a story that is meant to be told before bedtime. While the narrative is inventive and original, and seems to offer up a moral of not judging a person based off of preconceived notions, the structure of the story does seem somewhat disjointed. Beginning with the hyena and then switching to the hippo may be somewhat confusing for the reader, until they come to the end of the story and realize why the hyena was chronicled in the first place. The ending is also more of a cliffhanger than an actual ending, because the big hippo is not even made aware that his little brother is perfectly fine. We like the idea of the book, and the illustrations are great, we just wish the story line was organized differently, in a more linear and straightforward way.