Cuddly animals snuggle, hug, and protect a small child in a collection of affectionate poses from Japanese author/illustrator Suzuki.
The protagonist has no name, and there’s no plot in what at first feels like another unnecessary entry in the "I Love You So Much" genre. Kangaroos and polar bears and gigantic foxes embrace the kid on successive double-page spreads accompanied by what could be a parent's declarations of devotion. "I could spend all day with you." "I'll hug you when you are sad." "We all love you." Is it a family or a village expressing the love in the text opposite a group hug of 17 critters? And what does it mean when, on the last page, the child is so much larger than what appears to be a joey against the text, "I am so happy when we are together”? Suzuki wisely leaves it open to interpretation, and collectively, the pages, with sweet tableaux that could each be a postcard, begin to take on a powerful simplicity. Rather than descending into a gooey morass of platitudes, the book begins to feel like an artfully constructed haiku, one that might make some parents choke back a tear or two. Suzuki’s thick, soft outlines recall Kevin Henkes’; many spreads appear to eschew black altogether, and all are enticingly smudgy, even the one with a gigantic T. Rex.
For young readers, the book is like a bath before bed: soothing, comforting, and warm. (Picture book. 2-6)