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SO MANY CUDDLES by Ruth Austin


by Ruth Austin ; illustrated by Clare Owen

Pub Date: June 15th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-943200-49-8
Publisher: Compendium

A sweet celebration of a day filled with physical contact, from “rise and shine cuddles” to “sleep tight and good night.”

To Austin’s tally of cuddle possibilities (“We give thank you very much cuddles, I’m so glad you’re my friend cuddles, / and no cuddles at all please. Not right now”), Owen pairs bright, neatly pieced together scenes of a dark-skinned, black-haired child, a gray tabby, and a Saint Bernard sharing moments and feelings. It’s not entirely sunnily saccharine, as the “no cuddles” signals a need to be alone after an (unspecified) offense, and in the next picture the tearful child gets “oops! you had a fall cuddles.” Still, the child’s smile seems both genuine and mostly constant. Apparently intended to act as parental stand-ins, the animal companions are placed (with one exception) next to her in tight compositions, offering attention, sympathetic leans, and the occasional paw while anthropomorphically echoing her body language, facial expressions, even sometimes her actions. Consequently, the whole outing has an abstract flavor that the absence of other humans and the author’s use of a plural narrative voice only underscores. Still, by highlighting the diverse pleasures and rewards of shared contact, while also demonstrating that there are less-invasive alternatives to physical embraces for expressing love and affection, this takes a different angle to the general run of aggressive “let’s have a hug” titles.

An intimate, low-key variation on a popular theme.

(Picture book. 3-6)