cover image Who Wants a Hug?

Who Wants a Hug?

Jeff Mack. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-222026-4

Not only does grouchy Skunk definitely not want a hug, he’s out to get the No. 1 purveyor of cuddles in the forest, the loving and popular Bear. Skunk has a bottomless briefcase of “Super Stinky Tricks” designed to make Bear smelly and therefore unhuggable, but each dastardly ploy backfires spectacularly. Bear’s inability to forego giving hugs unwittingly saves him in the nick of time, making Skunk fall victim to his own smelly schemes, which involve a dead fish, an enormous bag of garbage, and a noxious stink bomb. Skunk’s eventual capitulation, however, poses a new challenge for Bear: does he have the courage to hug a reformed reprobate who reeks? Even readers who know exactly where this story is headed will have fun following the comic tango of Mack’s (Duck in the Fridge) hapless villain (who wears a top hat worthy of Snidely Whiplash) and oblivious, goody-four-paws hero. Told almost entirely through eminently performable dialogue, the story has the goofy verve and physics-defying slapstick of a Merrie Melodies cartoon. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Jan.)