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Monday, August 3, 2015

Hug Me, written and illustrated by Simona Ciraolo. Flying Eye Books, 2014. $24.50 ages 3 and up

"But Felipe thought
that his family worried
about all the wrong

They didn't notice that
all he wanted was a hug."

Poor Felipe! He is growing up in a dignified and unemotional family where hugs are not the order of the day ... understandable when you realize that Felipe is a cactus. Does that make him less likely to want or need the comfort afforded by a hug?

He holds out hope that someone will come along, and make his dream come true. It does not happen. As luck would have it, Felipe meets what he hopes will be a kindred soul -a bold and confident yellow balloon. You know where this relationship is headed, don't you?

When disaster inevitably occurs, Felipe is blamed for the attack that puts the balloon in the hospital. His family shows no support for him. Off he goes. No one seems interested in welcoming him to their neck of the woods. Eventually, he makes his own life, needing no one's company but his own. It is a lonely existence - until he meets someone equally lonely. The two are perfect together!

Were you to share this book with an audience without the expressive and impressive artwork, your listeners would  have no idea that Felipe is a cactus. Read it again, this time with the artwork, and the story tells a totally different tale - both are effective and telling. Simona Ciraolo's pencil and pen artwork allows a clear look at Felipe's many emotions as he navigates the road toward true friendship. The final endpapers are sure to improve your mood, and leave you looking for your own hug.

I am off to lunch with friends, and I know that hugs will be plentiful. Aaaah!

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