Book Review: Harvey the Hippo meets Mickey Mandarin

What a radical and riveting way to present an extremely relevant yet sensitive issue to its targeted audience!

Indeed, Abby Pete’s book, Harvey the Hippo meets Mickey Mandarin thoughtfully rules out exclusivity to embrace inclusivity with a tenderness that is apt for young minds. Acceptance of the fluidity of gender and a non-binary approach towards others are the fresh perspectives that this engaging read offers.

front cover of the book
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You can also by the book in Barnes and Noble and L.H. Press

The story is about Harvey, the hippo, who being a “he” and a “him”, lives in the zoo with his family and friends. They are Zo, the Zebra, who likes to be called “they” and “them”, Ginger, the giraffe, whose preferred pronouns are “she” and “her” and other animals too. However, their differences in identities do not affect their friendship but rather strengthen their bonds. In fact, the animals accept their friends as they are and engage in playful and purposeful activities collectively.

One day when Mickey Mandarin, the colourful drake, is spotted in the lake of the zoo, Harvey warmly welcomes “them”, the pronoun that Mickey goes by. The hearty hippo introduces the drake to the others and is intrigued to hear about “their” special qualities. He calls “them” a star and very soon, Mickey is imbued with a deep sense of belonging. In fact, when Mickey Mandarin finally flew away with “their” own flock, “they” declared Harvey and the rest as the best friends one could ever have.
Read other books of Harvey the Hippo
It is evident that through such an intentional narrative, the author is presenting behaviour patterns that she wishes children to effortlessly emulate. Further, the lucid language and rhythmic versatility of Abby Pete gets accentuated by the lively illustrations of the award-winning illustrator, Leslie Pontz. They not only serve to arrest the attention of a kid but impart knowledge about certain animals and their habitats. Moreover, the powerful underlying message of the book is amplified through the pictures that provide visibility to the content.

An ideal projection is meant to inspire and in that sense Harvey the Hippo meets Mickey Mandarin is a must-read for everyone. It helps one to inculcate the openness that is necessary to embrace all genders and celebrate an individual’s uniqueness irrespective of his/her/their distinction.

Harvey The Hippo Review

Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin is a timely and much-needed addition to the body of literature for young children. The tale delivers the message of love and the understanding of differences in a tender yet thoroughly unambiguous way. The illustrations are not only beautifully rendered, but also serve to amplify the rhyme. They are gentle and, at the same time, strong and vibrant, serving to engage a child and caregiver in conversation about the characters and the words.
Toni Seidl, child psychotherapist

Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin is a lovely book for young children and serves as a gentle introduction to gender identification. Using animal characters, it describes how some individuals identify as male, some female and some who feel they do not fit either descriptor. The use of 'he/him,' 'she/her' and 'they/them' vocabulary provides the young child with real-world terminology. The book stops there and does not delve into more advanced concepts of sexuality, allowing even the most reluctant parent to become comfortable with introducing these evolving societal norms to their child. It is a fine book for teaching children that everyone--same or different--is wonderful as they are and may become your friend.
Laurie Zelinger, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S, board-certified psychologist and author of Please Explain Anxiety to Me

If you want to read a book that will help kiddos feel seen, included and celebrated, you will find this story of friendship and community wonderful. Harvey the Hippo Meets Mickey Mandarin is heartwarming, as it uses fun and welcoming language that invites all genders to feel a sense of belonging, even if there are differences.
Anna Kiesnowski, psychotherapist

By: Quotidian Tales

This article and the opinions expressed in it are personal opinions. It is not meant for imposing specific views or endorsing a particular way of life. Also please do ignore any errors or omissions that you might come across. We pledge to learn from them. Happy viewing.


Laurie Griggs said…
Your review are so helpful for picking out books for the littles in my life!
Fransic verso said…
Interesting book, the name of it caught my attention haha. Love your review of it as well. I will check more of this book.
Victoria said…
Such a wonderful review! I don’t have little ones but I will definitely share about this book with friends and family with littles! Your introduction was superb and set the tone for the rest of your review.

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