Book: Who Wants a Hug?
Author: Jeff Mack
Age Range: 3-7
Who Wants a Hug? by Jeff Mack is a new picture book about a lovable bear and a not-so-lovable skunk. On our first read, I found it cute, but my four-year-old loved it. She had a big smile on her face throughout, and declared it a new favorite. Personally, I found that I appreciated it more on subsequent reads. Bear and Skunk grew on me.
Everyone likes Bear, who walks around the forest with a big smile on his face, offering the other animals hugs. No one likes Skunk, who goes around offering free slugs and has a negative attitude. When Bear offers Skunk a hug, Skunk refuses, because "nobody hugs a skunk?" Bear is undaunted, and just says: "I'll save you one for later." Skunk decides to get even with Bear for being so happy, and tries several times, to no avail, to bomb Bear with something stinky (e.g. a rotten fish). Bear keeps offering those hugs, though. Eventually, though, the tables as turned, as Skunk learns that he likes hugs, and Bear learns that giving hugs to someone really, really stinky isn't so desirable.
You can see why it's preschooler-friendly. Bad guy Skunk tries to perform rotten tricks, like tricking Bear into sitting on a balloon full of stink. Nice guy Bear escapes unharmed, and continues to be a nice guy throughout. There are pranks, bad smells, and hugs - all things you might find in the average classroom.
I liked the fact that Who Wants a Hug? is not a rhyming book, but has lots of dialog to offer scope for expressive reading aloud. Like this:
"That bear bugs me,"
growled Skunk. He's always
happy. He's always hugging.
I'll fix him!"
"One smack with this big stinky fish...
and Bear will be as huggable as a
thousand-year-old rotten mackerel.""
There are also some subtleties to Mack's illustrations. Skunk is small and peevish-faced, and wears a black top-hat with a purple band. He snickers "Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!" then he's about to spring a trap. He brings to mind, ever-so-slightly, the rabbit in Frosty the Snowman. Bad smells are shown with a green fog. Bear is fuzzy and round and looks just like a teddy bear. He is mostly happy, except when tired out from too much hugging or cringing when he is hit with Skunk's smell. The illustrations are in general bright and entertaining, perfect for the preschool set.
Who Wants a Hug? is an entertaining book that will make preschoolers chortle. I think it would make a fun library or classroom read. Recommended.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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