Ick. I don’t feel well.
Do you want a hug?
In Hug?, written and illustrated by Charlene Chua, a little girl comforts her cat by giving him a hug when he doesn’t feel well. But then the dog wants a hug, then some ducks, a skunk, a porcupine, a tiger, and even a dragon want hugs too. The only one who doesn’t want a hug is the diva unicorn. Overwhelmed by all this hug neediness, the little girl cries, “STOP!”. She now doesn’t feel well, and her cat asks her if she would like a hug. They hug, she feels better, and the book ends with “Hugs are great.” All agree except the unicorn who mutters, “Ugh. Hug.” as he is joyfully hugged by several children.
The message in Hug? is simple yet entirely appropriate for young children to make connections to their emotions. Children can make people feel better, but they have feelings and needs too. And sometimes emotions can be overwhelming and people need a break. The illustrations are a joy to look at. The animals are cute but funny and would have definite appeal for young children. The tiger trying to eat the cat, the unamused unicorn being hugged by children, the boa constrictor “hugging” the tiger, and the dog hugging the skunk with a clothes pin on his nose are just some examples of the detail in the illustrations that are sure to delight readers young and old.
Hug? would be an excellent choice for home libraries for children and their caregivers to discuss emotions, feelings, and setting limits. Hug? would also be useful for daycares and primary classroom teachers to discuss and teach concepts of social and emotional learning.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario.