Hattie Hates Hugs

Beaming. Apr. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781506480206.
PreS-Gr 2–Even though Hattie loves her big, exuberant, extended family, she dreads the inevitable embraces she’ll have to endure at their family reunion. Fortunately, Hattie’s sympathetic great-grandmother senses her discomfort and offers helpful advice on setting boundaries. Hattie learns that there are different ways to express affection and works up the courage to tell her family how she feels. They acknowledge her stance; although she feels realistically awkward at first, she’s able to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the reunion. This thoughtful picture book normalizes valid feelings about physical touch and encourages open communication. It’s an affirming read for kids who share Hattie’s discomfort with hugs and can be used as a gentle reminder for young hug enthusiasts to respect other people’s preferences. The text is clear and straightforward, and the expressive oil illustrations are rich with color and texture. Hattie and her family are depicted as multi-racial, with a variety of ages and body types represented. They look like a family you’d want to hug—if you’re the hugging type, that is.
VERDICT A recommended addition to picture book collections, especially where stories about feelings and social skills are in demand.

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