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MAMA: a TRUE story, in which a BABY HIPPO loses his MAMA during a TSUNAMI, but finds a new home, and a new MAMA Hardcover – April 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; First Edition edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152054952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152054953
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 9.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This visually poetic book's subtitle is longer than its entire text: "A true story in which a baby hippo loses his Mama during a tsunami, but finds a new home, and a new Mama." Using only two words, "Mama" and "Baby," Winter (The Librarian of Basra) reveals the true plight of a baby hippo rescued after the December 2004 tsunami struck the coast of Kenya (the facts appear in an endnote). A series of acrylic paintings with a thick golden border depict the young hippo calling, "Mama," as he swims alongside his parent in calm waters, nibbles on grass and cuddles next to her under the stars. But soon the frame turns to a violet blue that echoes the color of a tumultuous wave, which soon overtakes the spreads. Parent and child become separated; the mother calls, "Baby?", her offspring cries, "Mama?" each facing away from the other. Subsequent pages reveal the young hippo making it to shore and ultimately to his new home in an animal sanctuary. There he spies a giant tortoise and, apparently recognizes a kindred spirit, exclaims, "Mama!!!" The two bond and a concluding image shows them snuggled up together under a starry sky, as an apparition of a smiling mother hippo looks on. Giving this account a more emotional interpretation than does Owen & Mzee (reviewed below), Winter reassuringly portrays how friendship can ease a devastating loss. All ages. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Pre-Grade 3 Winter used true stories to address difficult topics in September Roses (Farrar, 2004) and The Librarian of Basra (Harcourt, 2005). Here, she tackles the tsunami in a narrative consisting of two repeated words: mama and baby. A hippo and his mother are shown enjoying a swim when gigantic waves pull them apart. They call out plaintively for one another, until the baby is alone in the deep waters of a full spread. After washing ashore, he is taken to a refuge, where he bonds with a 130-year-old tortoise (according to the endnote); the dialogue bubble reads mama. Winter's signature acrylics turn from choppy, deep blues to placid turquoise, and the ratio of sky to water returns to a normal balance. It is hard to predict how the book will affect youngsters who are anxious about water or separation. The pitching of the topic to a preschool audience without more explanation is questionable. Not only will the design lead to dismay as adults discern, too late, what the book is really about, but the lack of narrative makes the situation seem typical rather than unique and results in oversimplification of a complex relationship. Explore this subject instead through Isabella and Craig Hatkoff and Paula Kahumbu's sensitively structured Owen & Mzee (Scholastic, 2006), see p. 111. Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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I am very picky about books for my grandchildren and this one is lovely.
a reader
Our children are wise beyond what we give them credit, I'm glad there are books like this that help ease the questions of what is inevitable in life- death.
Mom2Lucabella
I know part of the appeal for him is that it is so easy for a beginning reader to read, and yet it tells a powerful story.
Zabster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Chameleon on June 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a children's book librarian, I've been following Jeanette Winter's books for many years, and I have always been struck by how child-friendly they are. They are books written and illustrated for children, not for adults, and this is what makes them such welcome additions to any children's book library. With MAMA, we have the ultimate example of this. In life, even in a child's life, difficult things happen. Tsunamis happen. Hurricanes happen. Divorce happens. Rather than being told such things aren't real, children need to deal them, to process them, and in a way that provides comfort. And so it is that Winter, as a children's book author, fearlessly, and with the utmost of grace, tackles a difficult thing that really did happen, ultimately providing much hope and joy. Bravo, Ms. Winter!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zabster on January 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I brought over a stack of children's books when I was visiting friends recently. The five year old picked this one out of twenty to have read to him. He then chose it again and again to read to himself.

I know part of the appeal for him is that it is so easy for a beginning reader to read, and yet it tells a powerful story. The only text is "mama" "baby" "mama?" "baby?" "mama!" "baby" Representing in the first pictures the baby hippo and his mama playing together, then their terror and bewilderment as the huge wave tears them away from each other and they are both alone and lost, and finally the little hippo's relief at finding a new mama (the big land turtle) and the turtle's acceptance of the little hippo as his new baby.

However, this little boy's father is dying of cancer. The child knows his daddy is sick, but has not been told his daddy is dying. Another child may be terrified by the pages where the child and parent are torn away from each other and then the child flounders alone and lost in the huge empty ocean. I think this little boy found comfort that people came to help the little hippo get to safety, and the hippo ended up with a new (if unlikely) mama to take care of him. The last page shows the baby hippo sleeping snuggled against the side of the big turtle, and his original mama is now stars in the sky, cuddled around her baby and his adoptive mama, still smiling down at him in love. I think my friends' son is taking the message from the book that if daddy goes away, someone else will take care of him, and daddy will be glad and will still love him from afar.

I would advise people to say something like "This book is about a little hippo who has something scary happen to him, but people help him, and he is okay," before reading this book to a child who may be frightened by it.
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Format: Hardcover
Mama by Jeanette Winter is another sweet story, told basically through illustrations only, except for the words "mama and baby". On the last page of the book is a brief synopsis of what really occurred when a baby hippo became separated from his mother when the great waves hit following the tsunami. After struggling alone for several days, the baby hippo was rescued by Kenyan wildlife officers and brought to live in an animal refuge. There, the baby hippo adopted a new "mama", a 130-year-old giant male tortoise. And they've been inseparable ever since.

The author's illustrations demonstrate the fear and loneliness experienced by the hippo as he searched for his mama. Simplistic, yes, however, it is a very effective way to tell this story to young children.....RECOMMENDED
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By Cody on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thinking about adoption? This simple story might help you finalize that decision.
Has a book ever been as impressive repeating the same word over and over?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a look like brand new book and the author's autograph included. I bought this because Winter's illustration was fantastic. As a graphic designer, I am very picky about illustration. But hers are not sugary sweet cute cute drawings. I love how the story unfolded. It was concise and the ending was very touching. Owen and Mzee was sleeping side by side and the spirit of Owen's mother was with them in peace. That was very comforting and touching, which showed HOPE and LOVE. It is an excellent book for all ages! Thank you Jeanette Winter!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven on August 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
MAMA: a TRUE story, in which a BABY HIPPO loses his MAMA during a TSUNAMI, but finds a new home, and a new MAMA
During the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004 near Indonesia, a group of hippos that were swimming in Kenya's Sabaki River were swept out to sea. Most of the hippos returned to safety, but one baby hippo was separated from his mother and washed up on shore after spending the night in the ocean. The baby hippo, less than a year old, was rescued by Kenyan wildlife officials and local fishermen and brought to a wildlife park. The baby hippo, now named Owen, immediately adopted a 130-year-old male tortoise named Mzee ("old man" in Swahili) as his new parent.

Mama tells the story of Owen the baby hippo through a series of charming illustrations that use only the words "mama" and "baby" to tell the tale. Even pre-reading children will be able to follow Owen's story, and having them explain what they think is happening in the pictures is a great first start towards building reading comprehension skills.

Mama is a wonderful testament to the power of adoptive families, and a celebration of the fact that they can occur even in the animal kingdom. Because it can be understood as a picture book even by very young children, this book is a good resource for introducing the idea of adoption to children who may not have heard their own adoption story yet. This positive message is further affirmed by the final panel, which shows the spirit of the mama hippo looking down happily upon Owen and Mzee.
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