A finger-puppet board book shows different ways a caregiver bear loves and embraces the little bear.
In this take on book puppetry, both of the big bear’s arms are plush, fabric manipulatives so that an adult reader can make the animal’s arms move, tickle, swing, or—as in the title—hug. Because the bear’s arms are a constant on each page, they must be long enough to reach through the entire book. That coupled with the fact that there are two of them makes for an uncomfortable (though manageable) hold on the right-hand side—using thumb and forefinger maximizes dexterity but makes for some awkwardness in turning the pages. Each two-page layout focuses on what the big bear’s arms can do for the little bear, and the illustrations show a shift in big bear’s gaze, stance, or expression in order to get the most out of what the puppet arms can add to the image. The digital illustrations are simple, allowing the puppetry to take center stage, but this also means they aren’t anything special to look at. The text follows suit; it’s dry and to-the-point. The similarly titled Hug Me Little Bunny follows the same pattern to focus on loving arms, ending identically with a hug. It also follows suit with lackluster illustrations and text.
The hugging puppet arms are charming and engaging, but where the novelty ends, so too does the quality of the story. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)