An excellent update on the golden rule: treat people how they want to be treated.

DON'T HUG DOUG

(HE DOESN'T LIKE IT)

A cheerful approach to basic consent.

In rollicking text readers learn that Doug, a brown-skinned child with red glasses, “likes to sort his rock collection, and try on his sock collection, and draw with his chalk collection.” He often has a smile on his face and “just doesn’t like hugs.” “Doug likes YOU,” the book assures readers, explaining that Doug only likes good-night hugs, from his mom. The next page points to people of various ages and racial presentations and poses a question: “Can you hug these people? There’s only one way to find out.” “ASK!” Doug rejoins. Readers learn that “Some people love hugs. Lots of people don’t. And lots of people are somewhere in the middle.” A collage of purple, green, and blue people (and one porcupine), one in hijab and the others with racially differentiated hair, share their preferences around physical affection. The story ends with Doug racing around high-fiving a diverse group of humans and nonhumans. Especially important is that Doug never gives a reason why he doesn’t like hugs—he just doesn’t, and the reason why doesn’t matter, because he gets to make that decision for himself. Even though it doesn’t have—or really need—a plot, this book will still be fun to read aloud or explore independently. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 8.3% of actual size.)

An excellent update on the golden rule: treat people how they want to be treated. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984813-02-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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