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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hugging Hour, written and illustrated by Aileen Leijten. Philomel, Penguin Group (Canada), 2009. $17.50 ages 4 and up

"Drool loved her grandma, but she missed her mom and dad. 'Do you know what time it is, dearie?' Grandma asked. Drool shook her head. 'It's three o'clock, and that means it's hugging hour!' Grandma and Drool hugged for one whole hour."

Poor Drool...she's feeling lost and alone when her parents leave her at Grandma's for a sleepover. She likes 'hugging hour', and playing with the house chicken, and the delicious dinner that Grandma provides. But, she is still anxious and missing what's normal in her young life. Grandma is a master at diverting Drool's attention to 'other things' when her granddaughter seems reluctant to spend the night. They share a bedtime story and Drool is tucked in, only to share her concerns with the sleeping chicken, who appears to be paying no mind to her worries.

Upon awakening to delicious smells wafting from the kitchen, Drool enjoys a pancake breakfast and wonders if Grandma might like to play dress-up. Grandma is busy knitting the longest Christmas sock imaginable for her beloved granddaughter. Poor Kip, the chicken....dressing up doesn't seem to be his favorite pastime. Then, it's hide-and-seek and Kip can't be found. In tears, Drool is sure he has disappeared, just as her parents have done. Grandma finds another focus...cupcakes! Before they know it, the doorbell rings and the wayward parents appear magically at the door. Drool is delighted, but eager for her next sleepover.

This would be a great book to use with Ira Sleeps Over (Houghton Mifflin, 1975)or Ben Over Night (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003). Sleepovers can be traumatic for little ones who suffer homesickness...all three are reassuring and helpful.

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