Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Preschool
Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
All Slug wants is a hug from his mom. When he doesn’t get it, he starts questioning why, and he goes to his other animal friends for advice. One by one, these creatures try to help make him more huggable—Kitten suggests becoming furrier, Bird offers some feathers and a beak, Pig says he needs a tail, and so on. After this intense makeover, and wearing this conglomerated costume, Slug returned home to show his mom his new look. Once she finally recognizes him, she insists that there’s no need to change who he is and that she loves him as he is. The only reason she never hugs him is because she has no arms… so she gives him a kiss!
Despite the overall positive message of this book, it has several significant shortcomings. For example, it seemed as if the author was trying to write the text with a pleasant, singsong-y feel, but the timing and rhyming schemes were so unnatural that it distracted and detracted from the story. Also, though the illustrations are bright, colorful, and energetic, some might find them to be sloppy and/or slightly awkward. Finally, the ending leaves the reader slightly unsatisfied because the resolution is so quick—there are only a few lines dedicated to Slug’s mother’s assurance of her unconditional love, whereas the remaining ninety percent of the book is focused on Slug’s melancholic search for acceptance. That being said, the redeeming quality of this book is certainly its message about unconditional love and being accepted for who you are. Parents can use this book with their children to teach them that the only thing they need to do to earn the love of their parents is to be themselves, and that it’s not worth listening to the deafening voices of the world that tell you otherwise.