Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HOW TO HUG by Maryann Macdonald


by Maryann Macdonald & illustrated by Jana Christy

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7614-5804-3
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

On the face of it, a hug seems to be about the most natural thing in the world. But no, there is an art to it; everybody knows at least one person who doesn’t get it: who hugs too long or too tight or too lightly. So Macdonald weighs in with a hugging primer to ensure you have the basics in place. All of the hugging depicted is between kids and animals—except for babies: “Babies are born to be hugged”—which serves to make the act completely unthreatening, and Christy’s artwork is an admirable combination of feathery soft and scritchy-scratch, like hugging Auntie Flo in her cashmere and then having a brush with Uncle Mo’s whiskers. Most of the advice is well taken: Try not to freeze up, learn how to let go, don’t try to hug someone who’s angry or prickly and it’s OK to politely decline. But, “never try to hug too many people at once”? When did the good old group hug fall out of favor? About halfway through, the author runs out of pointers and falls back on different types of hugs, from leg hugs to sideways hugs to rock-hard hugs (that would be a turtle), which may be cute but also feels like aimless filler. Still, to hug is to open your heart and bespeak trust, all much in evidence here. (Picture book. 3-8)