cover image The Very Best Hug

The Very Best Hug

Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illus. by Alison Brown. Bloomsbury, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5476-1236-9

Searching for “the BEST hug,” a child experiences alliterative animalian snuggles, including a “kangaroo kiss,” a “cobra clinch,” and a “hedgehog huggle,” in this picture book search for a just-right embrace. Depicted in turn via Brown’s loosely drawn domestic vignettes, different critters smother and smooch a pale-skinned protagonist during an apparent bedtime routine for an effect both tender and comic. “Nightingales love to nestle” amid the child’s unruly curls, a “skunk squeeze” sees the creature’s black tail tickling the child’s nose, and a rhino “wrestle” unfolds like a pillow fight. “You might not be quite ready to rumble in this rambunctious rough and tumble,” Prasadam-Halls observes in rhyming narration before launching into further suggestions that lead to the child carried to bed by a “meerkat mosh.” But while the monkeying around amuses, it’s a squeeze that emphasizes the value of family that fits “completely right,” making for an eminently huggable ending. Ages up to 5. (Jan.)