HUGO AND THE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LONG STRING

Flat, stylized illustrations and a meandering yet linear plot proclaim Boyle’s background in animation (he’s the creator of Nick Jr.’s Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!). Hugo is a purple hippopotamus with a huge head and small, blocky body. Hugo, his dog, their home on a hill, the town below and its residents all have the deliberately retro charm of many contemporary cartoons. The characters (all animals) have thick, black outlines that appear to advantage on the sometimes busy compositions, which feature a mix of double-page spreads and vignettes of various sizes. The relatively subdued palette allows readers to easily follow the long, red string that propels the plot. This is essentially a one-joke book, though the long-ish text might suggest otherwise. The mysterious string that leads Hugo through the town and introduces him to a number of new friends turns out to be “a very long thread from his old underwear.” Tomorrow’s adventures are implied in the blue string that leads from Hugo’s rug to his bedroom window. Undemanding but potentially popular. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-83423-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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