Sunday, May 3, 2020

Review - Hug?

by Charlene Chua
Date: 2020
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

How many hugs is too many? This girl's had enough! This humorous picture book explores compassion and the importance of setting boundaries. After coughing up a hairball, a girl's cat doesn't feel well. So the girl offers to give her cat a hug, which makes the cat --- and the girl --- feel better. A dog notices and asks for a hug, too. Then some ducks come along asking for hugs. And a skunk . . . and a bear --- and a porcupine! One animal after another comes asking the girl for a hug until she's simply had enough. How much more of this can she take? With spare text and wonderfully expressive illustrations, Charlene Chua has created a playful, funny picture book with an original premise. The story shows how important hugs can be to our happiness --- even the most unlikely of creatures sometimes need one! --- but that doesn't mean they're always welcome. The book is full of laugh-out-loud moments, most of which are found in illustrations that vividly portray the girl's emotions as she grows more worn out with every encounter, encouraging visual literacy. Each spread also shows a hint of the animal that will appear next, building anticipation for what's to come. There are character education connections here to compassion, tolerance and empathy, and a terrific opportunity for discussions about boundaries.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a simple little book without much of a story, but it's a cute take on the joys (and perils) of hugs. Perhaps the most valuable thing in it, aside from the sweet illustrations, is the message about consent.

A little girl is petting her cat when it throws up a hairball (as they do). It doesn't feel so good, so the girl asks if the cat would like a hug. Soon, everybody--from dogs to bears to porcupines--wants in on the hugging action, until the girl is so worn out from giving hugs that she doesn't feel so good herself. The tables then turn, with her cat asking if she would like a hug.

I like how everyone's asking for permission here. There are no uncomfortable, unwanted hugs (with the exception of when one of the animals tries to eat the cat). This book could be used as a springboard for a conversation about consent and personal boundaries.

The pictures are cute and the characters have great expressions. I've seen Chua's work before in Going Up! If you like her style, you'll find it's used to great effect here.

Overall, this is a strong picture book, even if the story is really more of an idea than a plot. But it works well for what it is, and it could help teach kids about consent in an easy-to-understand way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

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