cover image HUGS AND KISSES


Christophe Loupy, , illus. by Eve Tharlet, trans. by J. Alison James. . North-South, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7358-1484-4

This homage to affection from a French team stars Hugs, a farm puppy who is on a mission to find out which animal delivers the best kiss. Each encounter possesses its own distinct characteristics. The horse's delivery, for example, "was a bit damp, of course, and sticky, but it was quite warm." A rabbit's kiss was "a bit wiggley, of course, and quick, but it was quite soft." If the narrative includes a few too many examples and winds up predictably (his mother's kiss is best), Tharlet's paintings carry the volume. Keeping background elements to a minimum, she focuses each of her graceful, gauzy, ink-and-watercolor illustrations on the smooches themselves, which she imagines in endearing vignettes. Hugs rises up on his hind legs to connect with a butterfly and sits blissfully to receive a buss on each cheek from a pair of doting ducks; a comically looming pink sow plants one on the hero's nose. Like a kiss itself, this tale may well be the subject of repeated requests. Ages 3-5. (Jan.)