Hug Me

Simona Ciraolo. Nobrow/Flying Eye (Consortium, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-90926349-9
Felipe’s family is more interested in decorum than in the display of physical or emotional affection. Time to call child protective services? Well, no, since Felipe and his clan are cacti—prickliness is part of their nature. That doesn’t stop Felipe from trying to satisfy his craving for a hug, a search that leads him to leave home and eventually become a hermit, unable to find anyone willing to hug him. There’s a coy relationship between the text and artwork in Italian-born author/illustrator Ciraolo’s U.S. debut. Nowhere does she mention that Felipe and his family are cactuses, instead letting the artwork fill in the details. For example, a “bold and confident” friend Felipe makes early on is revealed to be a deranged-looking yellow balloon; “Cactus Attack” screams a newspaper headline after “disaster” strikes (“Felipe was blamed and made to feel very bad”). Ciraolo’s softly drawn cartoon cacti radiate charm—Felipe has a tiny pink flower on his head and a range of emotive expressions. While the story ends abruptly with Felipe meeting a craggy new companion, endpapers give readers a taste of the fun their friendship promises. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/14/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 24 pages - 978-4-19-864105-4
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