16-Page Read: Hug

I have a favorite book. Kerrie has a favorite book. Chances are, all of us as adults have favorite books, and those favorite books aren’t the same as our favorite books from when we were 15. Or 10. Or five.

16-Page Read

Hug by Jez Alborough

We weren’t always in possession of a favorite book though.

Think about it. We weren’t born with a favorite book. Likely, no one remembers their first favorite book.

Regardless, we had one. At sometime during our first year, we grabbed a hold of a book and claimed it as our own, selecting it above all others as “favorite,” and though we may not have cognitively known the importance of our selection, and though we may not have even been conscious of the fact that it was a book at all, it became our favorite.

HugI bring this up because Sierra now has a favorite book.

All I can do is beam, really. I think it’s so cool – my little girl, enjoying books. It wasn’t that long ago that it seemed like she was done with books, for a while at least. But now, here she is, enjoying books. (Enjoying. Not reading. Reading would actually involve a working knowledge of words an concepts.)

She sits on the floor, grabbing books, ripping them open, making little excited sounds and holding them up to us. She enjoys sitting in our lap and pointing at the pictures. At times, it seems like she “gets” what’s going on. She’s on that precipice, staring over the edge, ready to jump into reading like her parents and her grandparents before her.

So yeah, she enjoys books. But of all the books she has, she especially enjoys Hug by Jez Alborough.

Hug is everything you want a children’s book to be – easy to read, simple, a little emotional, a lot of fun. It follows a baby gorilla – Bobo – in his search for his mother.

I’m not going to lie. This book can be heartbreaking. It tugs on all of my parental heartstrings. After all, Bobo has lost his mother, his safety net, his giver of hugs. And as he sees each pair of animals, he is reminded of that loss – what begins as a happy recognition becomes a sad tale of remembrance, a sadness that can only be cured by a hug of his own.

Bobo views each hug (performed by a continuing cast of jungle animals) with growing panic until, finally, in a flood of tears, he cries out for a hug of his own. His mother arrives, everyone hugs, then everyone hugs again, then everyone hugs in an inter-species group hug, and everything ends happily.

So you’ve got diversity. You’ve got real feelings. Best of all, you’ve only got three words (“hug,” “Mommy,” and “Bobo.”)

More than that, you’ve got a book that manages to affect us as parents, the idea of our children being lost without us, searching for nothing more than a hug. The only thing I can ever think of doing after reading Hug is to reach down, give Sierra a hug of her own, and start again. We’ll read it two or three times through, and a hug is given at the culmination of each reading.

Maybe that’s why it’s her favorite. And maybe that’s why, after 11 months of reading children’s books, it’s quickly becoming one of mine.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 25th, 2008