Group Hug

Group Hug
Jean Reedy and Joey Chou
Scallywag Press

We humans so longed to be able to hug our friends and relations during the worst of the pandemic when it was not allowed, and so it is with the slug at the start of this jaunty, rhyming story.

Said slug soon comes upon a lone beetle looking as though some physical contact would do it the world of good and a heart-warming hug is duly bestowed.

Then, one by one along come Mouse, Skunk (exceedingly stinky), Squirrel (upon which Skunk had deposited some if its long-lingering aroma), a busy Beaver,

Porcupine (willing to shake off some of its prickles),

a groundhog, a goose, a fox, a moose and finally Bear. Each animal is welcomed into the cumulative hugging embrace with the refrain ‘GROUP HUG’ except Bear. The appearance of the lumbering ursine creature causes the others to break away and scatter far and wide in fright.

Now only Slug (the brave one) and Bear remain. Good old, knowing Slug ,with an unfailing source of warm-hearted embraces, is ready and willing to spread the love

thus precipitating the return of the others from their hiding places for the hugest ever huggers’ huddle.

Jean Reidy’s telling comprises story elements both young listeners and beginning readers delight in: a repeat refrain (the title in this case), a spare rhythmic rhyming text, gentle humour, along with themes of kindness, acceptance and inclusivity. All this, together with Joey Chou’s digital scenes, each of which is imbued with a sense of community delight, make for a welcome heart-warming hug of a book for group sharing and individual reading.