Chronicle Books: Bikes for Sale by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

I Need a Hug

A very spiky porcupine needs a hug. From the left-hand page, he asks the rabbit on the right-hand page, "Will you cuddle me, Lou?" The rabbit bolts: "What? With those spikes? Get away from me! Shoo!" The porcupine is undeterred. Next up? Ken, the moose: "I need a hug. Will you cuddle me, Ken?" Leaping off the page, Ken screams, "Help! It's that prickly thing at it again!" Still in place on the left-hand page, the little porcupine asks another animal for a little bit of love: "Will you cuddle me, Joe?" The bear turns tail, "Cuddle you? No, I won't! No No NO NO!"

Finally, the porcupine begins to lose hope, speaking directly to the reader, "No one will hug me. That's not very kind." But, "hey! Wait a minute...." Lou, Ken and Joe all appear, sprinting back toward the porcupine. "You've all changed your mind!" When the animals race past the itty-bitty porcupine, there is little time to feel bad for the hug-starved animal--at the very top of the right-hand page, readers will see that Lou, Ken and Joe are running away from a snake. "Geez," the snake says, "all I did was ask for a kiss." A final page turn shows the snake and the porcupine curled together, wholly blissed out. " 'Well isn't this lovely?' 'Yes, how about this.' "

Aaron Blabey's (The Bad Guys) acrylic, pen and pencil illustrations are eye-catching, with each spread making great use of boldly colored blank space. On a field of bright pink, neon green or storm-cloud blue, Blabey's animals pop, their exaggerated features displaying tons of emotion. I Need a Hug is entertaining and sweet. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness