A picture book explores Temple Grandin’s first innovation, a personalized hug machine.
When she was a child, Temple Grandin couldn’t stand hugs. To her, they “felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world.” While she craved the comfort she saw others receiving from hugs, she found physical contact with others to be overstimulating and actively unpleasant. During one summer at her aunt’s ranch, she observed the squeeze chutes that ranchers used to calm cows during examinations and realized she could give it a try herself. She fashioned her own device out of wood and cushions, using a pulley to make it adjustable from within—all the comfort of a hug without the overstimulation! Guglielmo and Tourville present Grandin’s story with respect and enthusiasm. The narrative concludes when her machine breaks. “And she knew that only one thing could cheer her up: // A HUG.” A quote from Grandin concludes the text: “I’m into hugging people now.” While Grandin has become comfortable with hugs, it’s not totally clear how this has come to pass, and for some readers, this ending’s emphasis on neurotypical behavior may feel out of place. Potter’s watercolor illustrations are typical of her style, with flat faces (almost all of them white), realistic colors, and full-bleed spreads. An authors’ note provides more detailed background on Grandin’s life and work, and only here is it mentioned that Grandin is on the autism spectrum.
Imperfect but still lovely. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)