cover image How Many Hugs?

How Many Hugs?

Heather Swain, illus. by Steven Henry. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-06651-0

Do more arms mean better hugs? That’s the question raised in this lighthearted contemplation of animal intimacy, Swain and Henry’s follow-up to All Kinds of Kisses. Starting with appendage-free snakes, Swain moves through the animal kingdoms, highlighting creatures with a growing number of arms, legs, or tentacles. These rhymes can get convoluted as they try to strike a playful note, divide each number in half (since a hug requires two arms), and provide details about each animal: “While nautilus—a small secretive squid/ that lives in a chamber where she likes to stay hid—/ comes out for a squeeze from her ninety long tentacles./ That’s forty-five hugs, each one identical.” But as a thought experiment, it’s charming, as are Henry’s smudgy graphics, which feature subtle heart shapes hidden throughout. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Dec.)