The Boy Who Was Followed Home

written by Margaret Mahy
illustrated by Stephen Kellogg


Jack Kent's There's No Such Thing as a Dragon

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

Ages 3-8

Can we keep the hippo? Pleeease?

In the classic The Boy Who Was Followed Home, Margaret Mahy works with every child’s desire to be followed home by a potential pet and creates a simple but wonderfully whimsical tale.

Robert is an ordinary boy – that is until one day a hippopotamus follows him home. Robert is pleased with this development, but his parents are not, particularly when the hippo takes up residence in the goldfish pond.

Despite his father’s complaints that people should keep their hippopotamuses chained up, there’s nothing Robert’s parents can do about the hippo or about the fact that more and more hippos are following Robert home everyday.

Things reach a breaking point when upwards of forty hippos are occupying the pond and surrounding lawn. Robert’s father finally decides to call a witch for help (he looks her up in the phone book, of course).

The witch gives Robert a pill to take. She tries to warn of a possible side effect, but Robert’s father waves her out of the house before she can explain.

Robert is a little disappointed when all the hippos leave the lawn, but he cheers up when he is followed home the next day…by a giraffe.

Adding to this delightful book are Stephen Kellogg’s soft, whimsical illustration. I especially love the looks on the hippos’ faces as they hopefully follow Robert home and then eventually leave the lawn looking reproachful.

Kellogg’s illustrations are a perfect complement to Mahy’s sweet, silly tale in The Boy Who Was Followed Home.

Read more of Sarah's book reviews.

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