cover image Nobody Hugs a Cactus

Nobody Hugs a Cactus

Carter Goodrich. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0090-0

New Yorker cover artist and animated film character designer Goodrich (We Forgot Brock!) infuses humor and sweetness into the simplest of settings and the most unassuming of characters. Hank, a cactus who sits in a pottery bowl in the window of a boxy structure, loves the peace and quiet of his remote desert home, so his smile morphs into a comically exaggerated frown when friendly passers-by attempt to engage him. He ignores a cheerful tumbleweed, frightens a tortoise, and lashes out at a jackrabbit who offers a snide greeting (“Hiya, Prickles!”). But after he shoos away a lanky cowboy, who caustically retorts, “Seems to me, somebody needs a hug. Too bad nobody hugs a cactus,” Hank has a change of heart and tries to solicit hugs—initially unsuccessfully. Dominated by subtle earth tones true to its desert setting, spare yet emotive watercolor art reveals how the cactus, with a small act of kindness, disproves the book’s title. In wryly understated words and pictures, Goodrich delivers a tale that is equally charming and droll—and a smart pick for cranky kids. Ages 4–8. [em](Apr.) [/em]