What a lovely book this turned out to be! Helen Cooper’s The Hippo at the End of the Hall, was one of the books Linda Sargent ‘sourced’ for my own reading pleasure, rather than duty (it’s really not so bad…), and it certainly was pleasure.
It’s apparently Helen’s first novel, but she has an illustrious past as a Kate Greenaway medalist, which shows in the drawings that adorn every chapter in this Hippo story.
Set mostly in an old-fashioned, small museum where you will find exhibits such as stuffed animals, so old that they are worn out and a bit dusty, this is a sweet and fast-paced mystery featuring young Ben who lives with his mother, in almost poverty after his father died some years before. Ben receives an invitation to the Gee Museum with the milk one morning. (Whereas it had really been delivered by the bees. The invite, not the milk.)
When he gets there, he finds that not all the long dead exhibits are totally dead, and that the museum is in danger and it is up to Ben to save it.
This is a true children’s story with a pair of deliciously ghastly baddies, lots of fine – if dead – animals, an elderly museum owner, and Ben’s mum, who is real heroine material. And, erm, a witch.
Can’t say more than that. Read the book and let some pleasure into your life. It worked for me.