Page 45 Review by Stephen
The joy of learning job skills and finding your personal calling!
Packed with wit and delivered with relish, this is a delightful Young Readers surprise told in three acts during which every aspect of the initial decay is, most unexpectedly, dealt with. I love a good structure and this is ever so neat - unlike these entropic enclosures.
"The old City Zoo was falling apart.
"No one was buying tickets.
"No one was managing the office.
"The habitats needed repair.
"The monkeys had no energy.
"The lion's mane wasn't very regal.
"The walrus's smile wasn't very bright.
"And in the centre of it all lived Red Panda and Hippopotamus."
To be honest, the whole thing needs relocating and a thorough Gerald Durrell make-over. But it's an old City Zoo and I think we can leave matters of a breeding programme to one side with 3 to 5 year olds.
Red Panda is thoroughly bored of it all and leaves to live amongst humans, returning each season to impress Hippopotamus with a dazzling array of jobs he claims are "awesome". Indeed they may be, but either Red Panda has the attention span of a bluebottle on Benzedrine or... well, we'll see shortly, won't we?
Finally his friend becomes fed up too, and asks Red Panda if he could find him a job too. Ever enthusiastic, Red Panda immediately agrees, for to live amongst humans you must learn to stand on your own two feet. And they do, quite literally, hence Hippopotamister!
Together they try their hands at construction, banking, hairdressing... and it swiftly becomes clear that although Hippopotamister has an aptitude for almost everything, well, here's what happens when they attempt to cook up something suitable in the kitchen.
Pasta al dente tossed with garlic and olive oil.
Steamed broccoli, crisp bell peppers, and grape tomatoes.
Sprinkling of parmesan over sautéed onions.
Antipasto A La Red Panda:
Critters, insects and assorted bugs.
Twigs, pebbles and burnt rocks.
Lint and mismatched buttons.
Red vine liquorice, mushrooms and car keys.
Car keys! I love that the rocks are burnt!
No matter, what Red Panda lacks in finesse, he more than makes up for with inexhaustible optimism. "This is going to be the best job ever!" he declares each and every time. You too will probably wince when they enter the dental practice. Particularly funny was the accelerated four-page montage during which Red Panda manages to make such a spectacular - and I mean catastrophic - mess of absolutely everything that he turns failure into an extreme sport. I loved their fling at being firemen!
However, if there's one thing Red Panda excels at, it's energy and enthusiasm and he doesn't know how to give up. Where there's a will, there's a way!
It's at this point I leave you for fear of having to type "Hippopotamister" again, but it will all fit together - a lot better than Red Panda's plumbing, anyway.