cover image Hugs


Alice McLerran. Scholastic, $4.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-44637-2

Nursery-room valentines, these two small-format books may look identical, with heart-patterned endpapers and filmy, feel-good illustrations, but one is saccharine and the other sweet. Hugs only squeezes by, with predictable rhymes governing its coy verse: ``Hugs are almost magic, / Hugs are fun to do. / Other people give you hugs, / You can give hugs, too.'' Fortunately, Kisses takes more liberties with its subjects (the weather ``kisses'' with sun on your cheek, snow on your tongue or a raindrop in your hand; a butterfly kiss is described). Rhyme schemes are also more fanciful. Accompanying a picture of Eskimos rubbing noses: ``For Eskimos a kiss is THIS: / The reason, I suppose, is / Since they're dressed for blizzards, / They can only show their noses.'' Both books feature multiracial casts--the Hugs gang in variations on a blameless embrace, the Kisses crowd slightly more animated--but neither title is likely to break any hearts. Ages 3-6. (Jan.)