Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take an Evening Stroll is a familiar bedtime story

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take an Evening Stroll, by Britta Teckentrup, (May 2022, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791375199

Ages 3-7

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog are on their way home after an evening stroll, but Little Hedgehog continues to stop along the way to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and scents that evening has to offer. Big Hedgehog pauses their return each time, but it’s getting late: what to do? Every parent and caregiver knows this routine, whether at bedtime – when a little one wants one more drink of water, one more hug, or one other moment to stave off bedtime – or whether it’s “just one more minute” while doing something fun, be it at the playground or at a friend’s home. Britta Teckentrup sweetly captures those “but wait!” moments and creates a story where Big Hedgehog discovers the magic waiting when one lets themselves be led by a child, even if just for a moment. Britta Teckentrup’s artwork imagines warm sunsets and silver moonrises, with dense brown and green forests teeming with colorful flora and fauna. A wonderful story about pausing to enjoy the moment, and great for storytimes.

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take and Evening Stroll was originally published in Germany in 2022. There will be another Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog story coming in May 2023.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

While We Can’t Hug explains the now normal to kids

While We Can’t Hug, by by Eoin McLaughlin/Illustrated by Polly Dunbar, (Aug. 2020, Faber & Faber USA), $15.95, ISBN: 978-0571365586

Ages 3-7

Last year, Hedgehog and Tortoise became best friends in The Hug. This year, social distancing has hit them, too, but they’re finding ways to work around it in While We Can’t Hug. For the book’s duration, Hedgehog is on the left side, and Tortoise on the right; they’re sad that they miss each other but can’t hug, until Owl swoops in and tells them that there are many other ways to show love and affection. The two friends tentatively give it a shot, first, by waving, then by making funny faces. Inspired, the two write letters, blow kisses, dance, and paint pictures together, simply enjoying the other’s company. Author Eoin McLaughlin eloquently uses brief text to communicate the many ways to show others we love them while hugging isn’t an option. Polly Dunbar’s warm artwork uses comforting colors and soft shading to make each reader feel like they’re included in Hedgehog’s and Tortoise’s circle of friends.

For little ones who are having a difficult time not seeing friends and family, or seeing them and not being able to run and hug them, books like this are vital in explaining that love is still there, even when touch isn’t an option. Polly Dunbar provides the most important observation as Hedgehog and Tortoise share love across the book’s pages: “They could not touch. They could not hug. But they both knew that they were loved”. And that’s the message to take to heart.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar know the power of The Hug

The Hug, by Eoin McLaughlin/Illustrated by Polly Dunbar, (April 2019, Faber & Faber), $15.95, ISBN: 9780571348756

Ages 3-6

A sad hedgehog just wants a hug to help feel better, but every animal he comes across seems to find an excuse to run away. A tortoise also wants a hug to boost its spirits, but the animals all have other things to do, too. A wise owl tells the hedgehog that he’s a bit spiky to hug, and the tortoise’s shell is a bit hard, but “there’s someone for everyone”. And when the hedgehog and tortoise meet, they share a hug that will warm the insides of every reader in the room. The Hug is an adorable flipbook with short, easy-to-read sentences about the power of a hug. Read Hedgehog’s story, then flip the book and read Tortoise’s; they meet in the middle, in a hug that makes the two friends, and their readers, “as happy as a hug can make you… as happy as two someones can be”.

The artwork is simple and sweet, set against a plain ivory background. When the two characters hug, the joy on their faces is matched only by the swirls of color, stars, and flower petals surrounding them. It’s a sweet story that is perfect for storytime, perfect for cuddletime, wonderful for any time. I read this in a recent storytime and the kids and parents alike loved the leadup to the hug and the flip from one story to the next. A sweet story that reminds readers that there’s always someone out there to hug, no matter how prickly or how tough you may think you’re feeling.

Posted in Animal Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Hector’s Favorite Place shows kids how to face their fears

Hector’s Favorite Place, by Jo Rooks, (Aug. 2018, Magination Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781433828683

Ages 4-7

Hector is a hedgehog whose favorite place is home. He doesn’t go out that often, because everything he needs is home; home is “cozy and snuggly and safe”. At the same time, though, Hector wants to do things with his friends! He’s invited to the most exciting things: playing in the snow, ice skating, going to a party. But every time Hector accepts an invitation, he starts thinking about all the things that could go wrong, becomes anxious, and cancels plans. He decides to confront his anxiety, be brave, and head to the Winter party in the forest; when anxiety rears its ugly head again, he closes his eyes and imagines himself having fun and dancing at the party – and discovers that he’s having fun! After the party and some hot chocolate, Hector’ decides that he’s ready to take on new adventures outside of his home.

Hector’s Favorite Place is a child-friendly look at getting past fear. The author uses cute animals and age-appropriate text to communicate situations that may make kids nervous. Having Hector use creative visualization by imagining himself having fun is a great way to communicate this strategy to kids, giving them the tools to tackle worry and fear of everything from going to a friend’s party to starting the first day of school. Back matter gives parents some helpful advice on managing worry in kids and how to model helpful behaviors.

Magination Press is a publishing imprint of the American Psychological Association. The publisher’s website offers links to brochures and research from the APA, links to social media, and and links to the APA Book and APA Style blog. KidPsych is a kid- and parent-friendly site with games and activities.

I’ve been enjoying the Magination Press books for toddlers and kids. I like the topics the authors explore, and I love the way the authors and illustrators come together to create a story that appeals to kids and speaks to them in a way that respects and understands their feelings and challenges. So far, every book I’ve seen from Magination Press earns a spot in my library.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads

Hedgehog and Rabbit: Friends who have each other’s backs

Hedgehog and Rabbit: The Scary Wind, by Pablo Albo/Illustrated by Gómez, (Nov. 2017, nubeOCHO), $14.95, ISBN: 978-84-945971-7-6
Recommended for readers 3-7

Two friends, Hedgehog and Rabbit, are in the garden looking for snails and eating cabbage, when a gust of wind stirs up a pile of leaves and scares them both! Each friend runs off in a different direction, but realizes they’ve left the other behind. Determined to be brave, Hedgehog and Rabbit each disguise themselves to scare the windy monster – but will they end up scaring each other instead?

 

Hedgehog and Rabbit: The Stubborn Cloud, by Pablo Albo/Illustrated by Gómez, (Nov. 2017, nubeOCHO), $14.95, ISBN: 978-84-945971-9-0
Recommended for readers 3-7

Hedgehog and Rabbit, are in the garden on a sunny day, looking for snails and eating cabbage, when a cloud rolls in and covers the sun! Try as they might, neither Rabbit nor Hedgehog can get the cloud to move out of the way. Looks like they’ll have to enlist some help from their fellow animal friends.

 

The Hedgehog and Rabbit stories are sweet, fun books about friendship. Like an earlier readers’ Frog and Toad, the two friends spend time together, watch out for one another, and face some amusing weather-related misunderstandings together. The stories revolve around Rabbit and Hedgehog not being in on the joke – but the readers are, allowing for some fun dialogue with your audience as the stories progress. These stories can be a fun enhancement for early lessons on weather. Gomez’s illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and the characters have expressive faces, which makes these books a fun storytime choice.

Hedgehog and Rabbit are also available in Spanish (Erizo y Conejo).