Chester Raccoon faces a new childhood anxiety in the latest addition to the Kissing Hand series.
A sleepover at Pepper Opossum’s tree has Chester Raccoon excited. But it is not called an “overnight,” because these animals are nocturnal. Instead, Chester is going on an “overday.” (Sometimes wordplay can be more confusing than clever.) When Chester and his mother reach the Opossums’ tree, she places the requisite kiss in the palm of his hand, curls his fingers around it, and leaves him feeling safe and loved. The entire day is spent romping and playing as only woodland friends can—hanging by tails in trees, throwing darts made from porcupine quills and acorns, and splashing in the creek. The tale, punctuated by purple-colored “stinky puffs” from Sassafras Skunk, meanders realistically, until the creatures are tuckered out. When they all start yawning, everyone burrows in Pepper Opossum’s den to sleep. Everyone but Chester. Apparently, his mother’s Kissing Hand makes him feel safe, but it is not powerful enough to keep him from being homesick. Mrs. Opossum is kindly understanding, and a neighboring rabbit hops him back to his own hollow. An out-of-place poem muddles the end; it’s not a rhyme that will help kids address their own worries but, instead, simply a recap of the story.
Oddly incongruent to the Kissing Hand (1993) premise—fans of the original will likely be perplexed, though it does present a familiar childhood dilemma without shaming. (Picture book. 4-7)