Though Felipe’s not the first prickly children’s-book character ever to want a hug, he certainly is a charmer.

HUG ME

All Felipe wants is a hug—trouble is, Felipe is a cactus.

Not only is he a cactus, his family members are terrible snobs who “[believe] one should never trespass into another’s personal space.” They are also a great variety of cactus types, but what they lack in botanical consistency they make up for in an unfriendly uniformity of expression. Felipe appears to be a baby barrel cactus, with one bright pink flower atop his head. He is a lot less interested in “reach[ing] a high position,” as his family tells him he will, than in just getting a hug. His family not being “the touchy feely type,” he just has to hope that somebody else will come along. One day he makes friends with a balloon, with disastrous results. (The headlines read “Cactus Attack: Balloon in Hospital” and “Shame on the Family.”) He uproots himself to find companionship (his bare stump looks amusingly like tighty whiteys, and he walks on impossibly tiny pipe-stem legs). He resigns himself to life as a hermit till one day he hears weeping: It is Camilla, a lonely rock, and at last Felipe gets his hug. Ciraola tells her story with wry understatement, allowing her expressive illustrations to carry the narrative. Her palette is greens and pinks against cream-colored negative space with a few sandy pebbles added to situate Felipe and his family in their desert habitat.

Though Felipe’s not the first prickly children’s-book character ever to want a hug, he certainly is a charmer. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-909263-49-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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