Dear Hedgehug eagerly anticipates Valentine’s Day. But when he goes out, heart in hand, he finds his loving gestures are quite unwelcome.
Pinto’s first story comes from a set of drawings he made that later became a film. Now that film has been adapted into this picture book. There are books aplenty about hedgehogs and other prickly creatures having difficulty finding love. But the childlike, painterly look of the illustrations, along with Hedgehug’s sweet determination, just may motivate readers to make room for this tale. Hedgehug appears so swept up in the excitement of sharing his valentine heart that he does not take time to properly get to know the objects of his rather instantaneous affection. Doris the Bunny and Edie the Owl are quite rude. With an “OUCH!” and an “ARGGGGHHH!”, they rebuff his spiky embrace and reject his “stupid” and “silly” heart. Alone and dejected, he looks up to find a fearsome boar that delivers a loud “THUMP.” Poor Hedgehug’s heart is crumpled, and he learns a sharp lesson that “Love hurts.” All seems lost until thick-skinned Hannah the armadillo appears on the scene. She has patched up the seemingly ruined valentine, which now reads, “i think you’re special! P.S. I like your spikes.”
With just enough heart-beating action and well-placed sound effects, this could become a new holiday favorite for preschoolers still puzzling out how to best share their own feelings. (Picture book. 3-6)