While We Can’t Hug

Faber & Faber. Aug. 2020. 32p. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9780571365586.
K-Gr 2–What perfect timing for this topic, in an era in which hugging is rare (COVID-19) and conversations about respecting personal space and boundaries are gaining traction. In a sequel to The Hug, Hedgehog and Turtle, who are the best of friends, are separated by more than their quills and shell. For unstated reasons, they are not allowed to touch at this time. Wise Owl reassures them that there are many ways to show someone love and friendship. The friends experiment with different messages, beginning with a wave and a smile. They blow kisses, exchange funny faces and letters, and share art, dancing, and music. Ultimately, they both know that they are loved. Illustrations in ink and soft watercolors depict each character against creamy colored backgrounds, with a shade variance on each double-page spread to demarcate the separation.
VERDICT The timeliness of this sweet, understated story cannot be overstated. Recommended.

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