The Hug

Eoin McLaughlin, illus. by Polly Dunbar. Faber & Faber, $15.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-571-34875-6
Open this double-sided book one way and meet sad and very cute Tortoise, whose polite request for a restorative hug is met with equally polite but clearly cooked-up excuses from other animals (“Unfortunately, I’m digging a very important hole,” says Rabbit, who isn’t). “It’s your shell,” Owl explains. “It’s just so very hard. But don’t worry, there’s someone for everyone.” Flip the book over, and it’s the same trajectory for sad and adorable Hedgehog, whose quills are the deal-breaker. Tortoise and Hedgehog retreat from the world into tight little spheres of shell and prickles, respectively, until they notice each other. In a vertically oriented spread that serves as a visual center between the two versions, they embrace without any qualms at all, “as happy as two someones can be.” Debut author McLaughlin doesn’t break new ground in this story of two lonely animals finding comfort and friendship, but he and Dunbar (A Lion Is a Lion) bring a good measure of wit to the story. Dunbar’s animal portraits, drawn along a single, cream-colored plane with minimal background detailing, are funny and astute, suggesting that animals can be every bit as awkward and endearing as humans. Ages 3–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/24/2019
Release date: 04/01/2019
Genre: Children's
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