Review: How to Clean a Hippopotamus

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How to Clean a Hippopotamus, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16

You probably know that clown fish can safely hide in sea anemones, but did you know that the relationship is exclusive -- that the clown fish will succumb if it swims into any anemone but the one it has adopted?

This sophisticated picture book is full of fascinating snippets about symbiotic relationships in the animal world. The paper-collage art is as arresting as the brief text bites. Wisps of handmade paper give the faintly pink ostrich a fuzzy appeal, and the sturdy honey badger looks deceptively cuddly as it raids a beehive.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus (African helmet turtles do the job) would be a terrific addition to elementary and middle-school science libraries, and could nudge older readers into further investigation on this practical and endearing topic. Ages 9 and up.