Friday, May 3, 2019

Picture Book Friday

The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin, with illustrations by Polly Dunbar, is a perfectly charming picture book formatted to create a pair of stories that mirror each other and meet in the middle.

Hedgehog is sad and needs a hug, but he’s simply too prickly and his forest friends invent imaginative excuses to delay. Fox is in a hurry to go knock over a garbage bin – Squirrel must count his three acorns … again – Magpie needs to sing a very, very long song. McLaughlin balances Hedgehog’s need with the other animals’ genuine concern about being poked as they endeavor to evade their friend’s request. Eventually, wise Owl encourages tearful Hedgehog to remember that although he’s “a little bit tricky to hug … there’s someone for everyone.”

The next turn of the page proves Owl correct. For there is Tortoise, perfectly armored against all those prickles. The two rush into each other’s arms, “As happy as two someones can be.” Readers then discover the book can be flipped and read from the back with the Tortoise on a similar quest, but his hard shell is equally unappealing for Badger, Rabbit, and Frog when they are asked for a hug.

Dunbar’s delicate watercolors leave plenty of clean space on the cream-colored pages to enable the well-drawn characters to shine. The magical moment, when Hedgehog and Tortoise hug, culminates in soft, swirling lines and dancing stars that surround the pair as their dream is realized.

McLaughlin’s thoughtful use of simple words and sentence structure creates a text that is accessible for young readers and the story would also be a delightful read-aloud selection.
Recommended for home and school libraries. 

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