A sweet and simple introduction for toddlers to the ideas of consent and boundaries.
Author/illustrator Leung hits all the right notes in this useful and appealing volume that reminds kids that gestures of physical affection aren’t always welcome and that it’s OK to say, “No.” A series of vignettes presents the simple lesson, in Q-and-A fashion, in paired two-page scenes. The first two pages introduce the protagonist, Ladybug, who “loves hugs! She hugs to say hello. She hugs to say goodbye….” The following spread poses the book’s fundamental question: “…but will her friends let Ladybug hug?” For the rest of the book, Ladybug asks permission of her cute animal friends to hug them, enjoying several consensual hugs and being an understanding friend when she learns that “Sheep does not want to hug, and that’s okay.” The artwork is clean and simple, the backgrounds colorful, and the characters charming and expressive. In the denouement, Ladybug’s friends gather to see her off at the airport (in the final illustration, she flies away on her own power, sans airplane). “Does Ladybug want a super group hug? Yes.” Everyone clinches but Sheep, and that’s apparently still OK; no one gets hurt feelings. Sheep does accept a high five, suggesting that, hugging preferences aside, Sheep is a part of, and not apart from, the group of friends.
Clear, endearing, and important. (Board book. 1-4)