Hippopotamister is the fantastic new (and his first for young readers) graphic novel from the multitalented John Patrick Green. Opening endpapers show a zoo in a sad, sorry state. Green's illustrations remind me of the work of New Yorker cartoonist and picture book illustrator Harry Bliss, with the energy of animation. Colors by Cat Cora are mostly subdued, but pop when needed. Enclosures at the city zoo are rundown, amenities are in disrepair and the inhabitants are lethargic and despondent. Red Panda, neighbor to Hippopotamus, decides to hit the road and find a new gig. Red Panda returns often to visit Hippo, a new job and fresh enthusiasm each time. Finally, Hippo decides to join Red Panda and make a fresh start. Red Panda insists that Hippo, when entering the human world, must become Hippopotamister.
After a few hirings and firings, readers begin to understand why Red Panda has held so many different jobs. Watching Red Panda try and fail at a series of jobs is hilarious. Working as chefs, Red Panda makes a new dish, Antipasto A La Red Panda, with ingredients like mushrooms, red licorice, "twigs, pebbles and burnt rocks," bugs, lint and mismatched buttons...
Hippopotamister makes a delicious looking Hippopastqa Primavera. I honestly could have read a whole book of the mismatched Red Panda and Hippo succeeding and failing at a series of jobs, but every story does need a resolution. After getting fired from a final job working at a daycare center where Red Panda is a huge hit with the kids but Hippopotamister's size proves dangerous, Hippopotamister decides to return to the zoo. Happily, his work experiences in the outside world inspire him to help his neighbors and begin fixing up them and the zoo! Best of all, Red Panda returns to the zoo to apologize to Hippo and, feeling a little left out of all the improvements, is offered the job of Head of Customer Relations.
TeenBoat by Dave Roman and John Green!