A feel-good ride, full of droll artistic asides and an abundance of caring.
A little boy calls himself the Hug Machine. He is a squat little guy, with an oblong head and arms that would surely drag on the floor if he ever put them down. But that just means they are perfect for hugging. The Hug Machine wraps his arms around his family, neighbors, everyone he meets. He also hugs things that are hard (a rock), big (a bear), square (an ice cream truck) and spiky (a porcupine—while wearing adequate protection, of course). No one can resist his unbelievable hugging! Admittedly, the Hug Machine can look a tad forbidding while looking for his next cuddle recipient; his large eyes pop, and his arms stretch wide. But as soon as the hug starts, his face relaxes into a serene calm. With each hug, Campbell depicts him hilariously perched in the same position, as if he were perfectly inserted exactly where he should be. Unadorned, hand-lettered text and deliberately muted watercolors increase the warmth of this adorable little fellow. The story rests on a simple string of hugs and one plucky little hero doing his part to make the world a better place.
In his first outing as an author, Campbell shines. (Picture book. 3-6)