Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HUGSBY by Dow Phumiruk


by Dow Phumiruk ; illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-984835-98-7
Publisher: Viking

A tender story of the bond between a girl and her pet monster.

Shelly’s pet monster, Hugsby, is her best friend. Each day Hugsby greets Shelly with a hug after she returns from school. When Shelly’s school announces a Pet Monster Show-and-Tell Day, she becomes determined to teach Hugsby a new trick. Hugsby makes several earnest attempts to learn something new, including juggling and dancing. Shelly remains patient throughout this process, despite Hugsby’s lack of success, and tells him she loves him anyway. On the big day, Shelly is intimidated by her classmates’ pet monsters and their many talents. She starts to introduce Hugsby but is nervous until he envelops her in one of his trademark hugs, a return of the unconditional love and support she’s always given him. This tale is a gentle reminder about accepting others for who they are and of the value of quiet strengths like compassion. Shelly’s anxiety about Hugsby’s absence of talent provides a mirror for children who may feel insecure about their own status. Rendered in a soothing color palette of soft pastels, the illustrations reinforce that warmth and kindness are at the heart of this story. Shelly is cued Asian with pale skin and black hair; her classmates are a diverse group with different skin tones and hair textures. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 62% of actual size.)

Comforting and sincere, like every good hug.

(Picture book. 3-6)