Audrey Penn, Author , illus. by Barbara Leonard Gibson. Child & Family $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-87868-894-4

When Chester the raccoon was introduced to readers in The Kissing Hand, he was wrestling with the difficult transition of starting school. In this sequel, Chester has another hurdle to overcome: sibling rivalry. It's bad enough that his new brother Ronny is a pest ("He pulls my tail and talks to my friends and follows me everywhere I go!" Chester complains). But the hero is thrown for a loop when he sees Mrs. Raccoon giving Ronny a Kissing Hand—a smooch in the middle of her child's palm, which, as in the first book, sends "the warmth of that kiss [rushing] from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart"—previously reserved just for Chester. "How come you gave the baby my Kissing Hand?" Chester wails. But with his mother's patient reassurance and an analogy borrowed from nature (there will always be enough love to go around, just as the sun never runs out of light), he begins to believe she won't run out. There are certainly more bracing—and less obvious—treatments of this subject. But as the many fans of the original book proved, Penn understands the powerful pull of old-fashioned sentiment; and Gibson's illustrations, more understated than that of the artists' work in the first book, balances the sentimental message with her realistic renderings of nature. The flowery, poignant prose and meticulously detailed, benevolent-looking forest settings seem to spring straight from the heart. Ages 4-8. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/21/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-1-933718-02-6
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-933718-40-8
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