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Hugville    by Court Crandall & Joe Murray order for
by Court Crandall
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In this picture book, the rotundly huggable mayor welcomes readers (in Court Crandall's cheerful verses) to 'cross the town line / And sample each hug on the Hugville town sign.' Joe Murray's bright and zany illustrations highlight all the hugging that goes on (my favorite being the unlikely hug between a dog and cat on the back cover).

It's quite a town. Kids are taught hug subjects in grade school (by someone with a Ph.D., a 'Professional Hugging Degree' no less). Then there's the town zoo, where we're instructed in the art of monkey ('The Monkey Hug's one that every child knows. / Climb up a friend's limbs all the way to his nose') and octopus hugging techniques - the author tells us the latter can 'take hours to untangle'. Tornado and Pogo Stick hugging sound like fun, but I don't know about that Itchy Dog Hug!

Kids love to hug and be hugged, and this irresistible book enthusiastically encourages it. It even includes a simple cut out Hug Jug Kit at the back. And it ends perfectly: 'Pretend that your arms are all covered with glue / And hug the one reading this story to you!'

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