Janik Coat
“Mon hippopotame”
(Abrams Appleseed)

Hippopposites is beautiful large format board book about which uses a hippo to illustrate concepts of opposites. The format of the book is traditional: each double spread offers a pair of opposites. There are some expected pairing of words (small/large, full/empty) and some rather more unusual ones (opaque/transparent, free/caged) which definitely sets this book apart from many of the same theme. However, because of some of these more unusual opposites, this is not a substitute for more traditional books on opposites. Rather, it will work as a nice progression for slightly older children,  who will appreciate and understand the more unusual concepts as well as the aesthetics of the book.
The minimalist design of the book, with the large red (almost all of the time) hippo remaining the focus of the pages is both wonderfully attractive and conducive to expressing the concepts successfully. The hippo’s stoic expression throughout the book and his recognisable, yet unusual, shape help give a sophisticated look to the book. It is sleek, bold, yet child-friendly.

Janik Coat’s graphic designer background really shines through, as well as an eye for the unusual.
The invisible/visible page, amongst others, is wonderful and like many of the pages, will instigate some interesting discussions. Some of the spreads will definitely challenge young readers to think more about some of the concepts illustrated.

But there are still some more traditional features to this book, such as  some gorgeous tactile elements and some wonderful work with die-cuts which will draw in the youngest of readers.

There is something very beautiful about Hippopposites and with its unusual take on the theme of opposites, it is well worth investigating. It will be a hit with little people (though be aware it is a large and therefore fairly heavy board book), older children and adults who like attractive graphic design.
Abrams Appleseed is proving to be one to watch with some fabulous, innovative books young readers.

All illustrations © Janik Coat

Source: review copy from publisher