LAUREL, MD. Sometimes everyone needs a hug. There are times when everyone needs a little comforting. Even prickly things. Like porcupines. And snakes. But what happens when everyone around is unwilling, or even afraid, to offer affection? In his latest children’s book, I Need a Hug, author and illustrator Aaron Blabey takes on the dilemma confronting an individual in need of comforting or companionship, while those who might offer it find themselves intimidated by the affection seeker.
Aaron Blabey has also authored other popular children’s books, including thos in his Pig the Pug and Thelma the Unicorn series. I Need a Hug is his latest.
Why do I Need a Hug?
In I Need a Hug, Blabey employs a little porcupine as his protagonist and messenger. The prickly creature feels a bit lonely and in need of a hug, but he finds this simple request more daunting than one could imagine. The little porcupine knows the forest animals by name, and he asks each one for a cuddle. But they all run away, referring to him as “prickly thing.” Worse, they yell at him to go away, lest they get stuck by a batch of his quills. The porcupine thinks the other animals are being unkind. Then he sees them all running back towards him and imagines they have changed their minds.
However, the real reason they come scurrying back? They are busy fleeing from another scary animal that wants affection. A snake is slithering around and asking for a kiss.
Soon, the porcupine and the snake realize that they are both in the same predicament. Happily, neither intimidates the other. Both find the affection they seek. And everything ends well.
The lavish, colorful illustrations in I Need a Hug focus directly on the animal characters. No lavish back ground illustrations distract the reader or the listener from Aaron Blabey’s essential and thoughtful message about the importance of affection and companionship. In this appealing book for younger children, the words expressed by the characters appear in speech bubbles like those in a comic strip or cartoon. Young children can easily relate to the book’s adorable little porcupine protagonist and his highly emotive face. They might even like that lonely snake. Maybe just a little.
A message of compassion and companionship
I Need a Hug sends the positive message that there is always someone out there willing to love anyone in need of it. Shy children, or those experiencing trouble making friends, should find this message reassuring. In addition, this book and its simple story reminds children that sometimes, even those people who might not be their friends can experience deep emotions and find themselves in need of comfort too.
Sharing this book with a sensitive or unusually emotional childe could provide an opening for parents to discuss offering compassion to others outside of one’s self, or offering kindness to those who seem lonely or sad.
I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey is available as a hardcover picture book. Published by Scholastic Books on December 26, 2018, it’s recommended for children ages 3-5. ISBN: 9781338297102.
Another fine children’s book: Good Night, Snowplow!
— Headline image:I Need a Hug cover illustration. (Fair use in book review)