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FICTION

Huddle Up! Cuddle Up!

Viking. Aug. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593115626.
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K-Gr 2–A fun, football-loving family ends their weekend with a raucous routine, similar to the antics in Friday Night Wrestlefest. Two biracial children and their parents (dad is white, mom is Black) come home from the big game on a Sunday night and extend the play by making a game of cleaning up and bedtime prep. In a combination of an announcer’s calls and speech bubbles, they dive into bath time, spin through the laundry, and launch into bed, all before the clock runs out. Lively brush pen and watercolor illustrations, similar to those of Matthew Cordell, are loose and light. The family, including a shaggy black dog, make up the focus of the pages. What little decor appears in the home is humorously football-driven (ball-themed wallpaper, playing field bathmat, etc.). Fans with high attention to detail may recognize the light blue jerseys and the name on the dog’s bowl (“Marino”) as associated with the Miami Dolphins. While the family is completely in love with the game, the illustrations carefully yet subtly show that they are not single-minded. In the end, after a “story time-out,” the parents whisper what is surely a nightly refrain: “Open hearts. Closed eyes. Night. Night.”
VERDICT An interesting take on the sports theme, this playful romp, with a family genuinely delighting in one another’s company and celebrating their love of the game, will be popular in picture book collections.

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