Happy 40th birthday to ECEC’s favourite hippo who celebrated on the roof, eating cake

Happy 40th birthday to ECEC’s favourite hippo who celebrated on the roof, eating cake

by Freya Lucas

April 21, 2020

Classic Australian picture book There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake celebrated its 40th anniversary of publication last month, with author Hazel Edwards and illustrator Deborah Niland championing the adventures of the loveable Hippo, who has now starred in seven picture books, a junior chapter book, classroom play scripts, a musical and a short film. 

 

The stories, familiar to those working in early childhood education and care (ECEC), support children to navigate life’s bigger moments, such as starting school or going to hospital, have been translated into Braille and Auslan, making them more accessible for children with visual and hearing impairments, have been enshrined in Australian culture, even being presented as official Australian Government gifts to Princess Mary of Denmark’s children. 

 

Journalist and early childhood Educator Melina Byrne recently spoke with Ms Edwards about the milestone, with the author sharing that three generations of hippo-shaped gifts have found their way to her from fans of the book.

 

The Hippo’s appeal, Ms Edwards said, is ageless and loved by all sorts of families. The same saga has played out in her own family, with the author telling Ms Byrne that about the role Hippo has played in the lives of her three grandsons Truman (20), Henry (8) and Arlo (6 months), each of whom have a special story written for them on their birthday. 

 

In terms of her future goals for the Hippo, Ms Edwards said she would love the musical to tour again, based on the popularity of the books, which are reprinted annually, as well as to see him on a stamp, and travelling the world. 

 

The 40th Anniversary Edition of There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake is published by Penguin Random House Australia and is in bookstores now. To read Ms Byrne’s interview, please see here

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