There's a Hippo in My Bath
adapted from a story by Kyoko Matsuoka with illustrations by Akiko Hayashi/ published 1982 by Doubleday
When my son was old enough to start going to the library, this was the very first book he ever selected for himself. We took it home that day and have subsequently checked it out about a dozen times since (including yesterday). I've attempted to buy him a copy on several occasions, but good ones are few and far between and can get rather expensive. Regardless of price or availability, I think There's a Hippo in My Bath! is one of the best animal books for small children ever printed. It is hard to explain exactly why this book rocks so hard... that is until you witness an actual kid getting it read aloud to them. I think the draw of the story is that something outlandish happens in a very everyday environment (every kid takes a bath, right?), and it just tweaks their imaginations.
Little boy goes to take a bath with his rubber duckie. Rubber duckie comes to life, takes a dip underwater and utters the unforgettable line...
I made my washcloth soapy and washed all over.
But Duckie didn't wash, he just played in the tub.
Bloop. Bloop. Bloop.
He dove down to the bottom.
But he quickly came up again.
"There's something down there," he said.
There's something down there all right. Even me at the crusty old age of 35 can hear words like those and get all a-twitter in my stomach. What happens next is so magical and amazing, that it makes me giggle just thinking about it.
What makes the story extra sweet is that the little boy is naked throughout. But naked and adorable in the innocent and familiar way that having a small child can be. Sadly, one copy I checked out at the library actually had the kid's genitalia censored out via some strategically placed mini post-it notes. Geez, at least when they censored In the Night Kitchen, they put pants on the kid. Too silly. I mean come on, nothing is cuter than this little boy's butt while he's scrubbing the hippo's back. Oops, there, I've said too much. Thankfully, the hippo in the tub isn't the biggest surprise these pages hold.