CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 24 . . . . February 24, 2012
The Runaway Hug is a picture book full of warmth and comfort that will engage very young children. Nick Bland’s third person narrative follows a little girl named Lucy as she engages in an imaginative game she creates out of giving a hug to everyone in her family before she goes to bed. The narrative artfully describes the feeling of what giving and receiving each hug feels like for Lucy as she seeks every member of her family before bedtime. The text follows Lucy as she gets hugs from her mother, father, twin brothers, baby sister, and even the family dog.
The pastel illustrations by Freya Blackwood complement the warmth of the story and add to the narrative by describing the family life that exists within Lucy’s home. The illustrations on the title pages also function as a narrative apart from the text as they follow Lucy as she gets ready for bed on her own. Blackwood’s artwork adds to the text by depicting each member of the family in different parts of the home engaging in their own activities from the laundry room, to the TV room, to the kitchen, and even the bathroom. The illustrations also realistically show how the family home is laid out room by room, including some engaging overhead views of more than one room at a time.
Blackwood’s images function to bring forth details about the family, their actions, and characteristics that are not described in the text. The messiness of a home containing four children and a dog is realistically depicted as Lucy walks through hallways of scattered toys to find her baby sister making a mess in the kitchen and also a mischievous dog in the bathroom. The overhead view at the end of the story brings the narrative to a peaceful end as it shows all the children fast asleep in their rooms and mother and father rocking their baby to sleep.
Bland’s text and Blackwood’s illustrations work together to create a warm story about a loving but also imperfect family home that children will be able to relate to. The Runaway Hug is a story that will have a calming effect when shared with young children not only at bedtime but any time of the day.
Vasso Tassiopoulos is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts program in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia.
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