Everyone, including prickly hedgehogs, needs some bodily contact with another animal or human.
Many of the animals that Hedgehog will encounter are pictured even before the story begins in a woodland scene opposite the copyright page. If that hasn’t, the first full double-page spread immediately draws readers in, as lush browns and greens show the hedgehog in “his cozy nest” looking out toward the forest. Each picture is painted from a different perspective, making this an exciting visual experience. The story itself is one that has been told before: An animal seeking love and physical contact asks everyone in the forest to give him a hug. Due to Hedgehog’s sharp spines, Rabbit and Raccoon decline. Turtle just sleeps through the request. Fox agrees but then “sly-slide-slinking over” grabs the small animal in its mouth (and immediately regrets the act). Finally Hedgehog meets the other pariah of the forest, Skunk, who seems to be experiencing the same problem, and readers may guess the ending. The language is just right for the audience: a repetitive refrain (“ ‘Rabbit, I need a hug. Will you give me one?’ he asked”) and some appealing wordplay (“Hedgehog took a deep breath and tip-patter-padded close to Skunk”). The short text reads well aloud.
Wordplay and engaging images are joined expertly to a theme of love and compassion without treacle. (Picture book. 3-6)