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THE BIG HUG by Megan Walker


by Megan Walker ; illustrated by Megan Walker

Pub Date: April 20th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-57687-979-5
Publisher: POW!

Two friends find ways to give hugs when world events keep them inside and apart.

Two friends, both Black, live on opposite sides of a quiet street and are inseparable. They play active games outdoors from morning till evening. When they fight, they always make up with a big hug and get back to playing together. But one day, they must stop playing, go inside, and stay apart for a long while. “Where can you put friendship when friends are apart? / Slowly, they learned.” From across the street, through windows and phones, they share “hugs” in the form of smiles, waves, songs, pictures, dance contests, and laughter. By the time they can return outdoors, playing while keeping their distance, they have discovered that “A friendship is a hug when you can’t be there.” And when they finally can “be together again,” they share one big physical hug. The bold cartoon illustrations in this picture book use thick black lines, expressive faces, and selective variations in white space, grayscale, bright color, and framing techniques to depict the roller coaster of feelings the children experience, from joy to isolation and back again. The simplicity of the story and its lack of specific detail (face coverings are not pictured, and the reason for the isolation is not named) make it emotionally resonant now and likely to remain relevant for years to come.

As comforting and hopeful as a big hug.

(Picture book. 4-9)