“Just Call Me Stanley” is the tale of a multi-colored small hippopotamus with extraordinary talents.
The Livingstone twins discover the small multicolored hippo hiding under a bush in a park in Victoria, BC. The animal is fleeing “bad men” who had kidnapped him. The twins hide the hippo in the back of the car and he is taken to their home on an island. When the hippo is discovered by their mother, she is persuaded to shelter him not only by the twin’s begging but also by the little animal’s unusual color and the fact that he can talk. The hippo is named “Stanley,” and his new home is a barn on the Livingstone property.
The story then traces Stanley’s development as he learns the language and culture of Canada. He also learns to play chess on the computer, and delves into the internet. Although he continues to speak in a sort of pidgin manner due to the fact he has no vocal chords, he exhibits genius intelligence as his knowledge grows. He is eventually able to participate in the decisions for his protection and future.
The book goes into great detail about the political, biological, and social issues of harboring and protecting an unknown species. In some instances, I felt that Mr. Chumley was airing his own social views in ways that did not fit the character or advance the story. However, the descriptions of biological and computer/communications are current and appropriate.
I consulted with a teacher friend, and she felt that although the protagonists in the tale, the twins, are probably elementary age, the book would be most appealing to middle school age youth. The book is a slim trade paperback of 200 pages, an appealing length story for young people.
Reviewed by Ruth McIntyre-Williams
Author of the Celtic Medieval Novel “Clovenstone”.