I Need a Hug

Aaron Blabey. Scholastic Press, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-338-29710-2
In his signature cartoon style, Blabey (Thelma the Unicorn) introduces a porcupine with an intimidating set of fanlike quills. Despite his pointy nature, the porcupine wants hugs: “I need a hug. Will you cuddle me, Lou?” the porcupine asks a gray bunny. “What? With those spikes? Get away from me! Shoo!” A moose named Ken has a similar reaction to the porcupine’s request, and a brown bear named Joe is equally unnerved, leading the porcupine to a moment of dejection: “No one will hug me. That’s not very kind.” Blabey’s illustrations of expressive animals, set against empty backgrounds, are the strength of this simple story, told entirely in dialogue, about finding connection and comfort with new friends. But physical affection plays an odd role here: the prickly protagonist depends on it for feelings of acceptance; the characters who refuse are considered “unkind.” The potentially mixed messages about the legitimacy of boundaries and sources of self-esteem further weaken this already slight offering. Ages 3–5. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 12/26/2018
Genre: Children's
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