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Book/Toy Review: Ben Kachoo – Sink or Swim, by Angela Larson/illus. by Laura K. Brown (Fierce Fun Toys, 2010)

ben kachooRecommended for ages 2-8

Ben Kachoo is a hippo with allergies. Unfortunately for him, he lives in a swamp at the zoo that does nothing but aggravate those allergies. He uses his sneezes as a positive, though; they are so forceful that they propel him through the water – until the day they send him crashing into a crocodile named Arrow. You see, the crocodiles and the hippos don’t mix, despite sharing the same swamp; so his collision with Arrow leaves Ben  worried, at first, and he apologizes profusely. Arrow couldn’t be friendlier, and not only accepts his apology but strikes up a friendship with the sneezing hippo.

The story of how unlikely friendships occur (with an emphasis on manners) is a great story for young readers and for read-alouds. The cartoon-type artwork is bright and lively, with exaggerated facial expressions taking up much of the pages and making it accessible for young, pre-readers to enjoy and follow along. The story font is black, bold, and in an expressive, angular font that will keep the interest of slightly older readers.

The accompanying plush Ben is a friendly, soft companion for a read-aloud. A squeeze of his tail activates one of his six sneezes, a “Whoa!” and an “Excuse me!”. which can enhance the storytelling. The story is also a good candidate for felt board storytelling; there are many sites that offer animal printouts.

This would be a great addition to a read-aloud on either friendship or manners. DLTK’s website offers a friendship craft where children trace their hands and cut them out to form a wreath.

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Author:

I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading (http://whatchareading.com). I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (http://www.onwednesdays.net/), where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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