I'm fascinated by picture books starring unusual protagonists, so today I'm reviewing two books featuring the humble hedgehog, which the dictionary defines as "a small nocturnal Old World mammal with a spiny coat and short legs, able to roll itself into a ball for defense."
In Hedgehog Needs a Hug (Jen Betton, G.P. Putnam's Sons 2018), a hedgehog in need of affection gets rejected by
animal after animal in his quest for a hug. Frightened by Hedgehog's quills, the other animals invent creative excuses to avoid touching Hedgehog, until Hedgehog and Skunk get over their mutual fear of each other and embrace.
I love the rhythmic language in this book: Hedgehog "tip-patter-padded" and Fox moves by "sly-slide-slinking." The message of finding a friend when you least expect it and the warm illustrations combine for a solid debut by author-illustrator Jen Betton.
The title of Hedge Hog (Ashlyn Anstee, Tundra Books, 2018) is a creative play on words: hedgehog is literally a "hog" as he doesn't want to share his home (the hedge) with the other animals. This book is a cute twist on the universal childhood theme of "learning to share" told in simple, straightforward language and adorable illustrations. I especially enjoyed the twist at the end when Hedgehog asks the other animals to call him by his real name, Eugene.
If you'd like more hedgehog fun, consider an art project to make a hedgehog out of leaves.
For more great picture books, check out Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Books.