cover image Group Hug

Group Hug

Jean Reidy, illus. by Joey Chou. Holt, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-12710-5

A yellow and orange slug in need of a hug finds a lonely beetle who could also benefit from the shoring up that can accompany physical contact. Their embrace sets off a growing collective clutch of woodland critters, all having a bad day for one reason or another (“A groundhog, forgotten./ A goose, out of luck.// A fox nicknamed ‘Sneaky.’/ A moose, feeling stuck”) and each welcomed into the literal fold with the refrain, “GROUP HUG!” A bear “needing someone to care” momentarily tests the group’s resolve, but when the slug bravely proffers a hug, the others return from their respective hiding places to join the huddle once again. The economic text has a surfeit of aural pleasures, and Reidy (Truman) strikes a comic tone that never sinks into sentimentality: an overworked beaver is beckoned with “Come join our crew./ Let the hugging ensue!” Digital art by Chou (Ways to Welcome) combines strong lines and shapes with intricate, expertly balanced overlays of color and texture. Together, text and art radiate a sense of unalloyed communal joy. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Nov.)