How to Send a Hug

Little, Brown. Nov. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316306928.
Gr 1-4–Instead of calling this book something more prosaic, such as, How to Write and Mail a Letter to Your Favorite Grandparent, the author uses the language of hugs, while the illustrator translates it into nonfiction. “They will take [the letter you have written and put in an envelope and addressed and stamped] to a special building where all the hugs are sorted, and their jackets are stamped so that they all end up at the right place.” In an era when many children only see the junk and flyers that line their family mailboxes, or the emails that line a computer screen, this book might be a revelation. The freckle-faced child at its center has not seen her grandmother, Gertie, in months, but here is a way to send a hug and all the accompanying love, straight to her heart. Scenes of postal buildings, carriers, trucks, planes, and all the waiting one does while a letter makes its way to a loved one fill spreads, as do letters that others have written, including one of a diverse crowd joyfully reading over the opened pages. An elderly light-skinned lighthouse keeper, an older man using a wheelchair and a plaid blanket to keep warm, a Black family of three, a white soldier sitting on sandbags, inhaling the scent of the pages—these are scenes of people who know the value of a hug in the mail. Share this with children, then get out the paper and writing materials and get started.
VERDICT An old-fashioned way to introduce a newfangled idea: connecting via an envelope full of love, post-pandemic. For class projects or a conversation about long-distance families.

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