cover image THE GIANT HUG


Sandra Horning, , illlus. by Valeri Gorbachev. . Knopf, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-82477-7

In this comical, sweet-natured picture book, a perky piglet named Owen finds an inventive way to send love long distance when he arranges to mail a "giant hug" cross-country to his granny. Not content to draw a picture of himself hugging Granny, Owen announces to his mother "I want to send a real hug. I'll give the mailman a hug and ask him to send it to Granny." Luckily, Owen finds a host of supportive if slightly incredulous postal personnel willing to help. From the local mail sorter Ms. Porter, a lamb, to the ursine pilot who flies the mail closer to its far-away destination, each employee provides a link in the hug-passing chain. And better yet, the delivery team gets a goodwill boost as each embraces the hugging spirit (one hug even precipitates a date). When Granny finally receives her special mail, she sends something equally interesting back to Owen. In her picture-book debut Horning serves up a cheerful and heartwarming scenario sure to capture the imagination of little ones and those who dote on them. Her kind, respectful animal characters have just the right touch of credibility, making this perfectly pleasant world seem possible. Gorbachev's (Silly and Sillier ) ink-and-watercolor artwork charms, featuring a menagerie of friendly, helpful critters which sometimes suggest an enlarged version of Richard Scarry's Busytown. In an amusing scene, Gorbachev makes even a mail-truck-driving porcupine huggable. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)