Paul Schmid (story and pictures). Hugs from Pearl. New York: Harper, 2012. 34 pages.
Hugs from Pearl is a fun, sweet look at a school-age porcupine who loves giving hugs, but doesn’t love the “ouches” she gets in return. Schmid’s illustrations are simple but expressive–he does a fine job of showing Pearl as happy, determined, discouraged and many other moods. Since each illustration has only a few elements, what he shows you goes a long way towards telling the story.
The book works because it’s about a tiny porcupine with a problem. In the early pages, young readers can experience the empathy of seeing the world through the eyes of someone who’s not getting what they want, and by the end they can join in her satisfaction at solving her problem, and her joy at finally being able to give hugs without hurting her friends.
Hugs from Pearl has a page-turning story and a sweet message. With nice illustrations, it’s got just about everything you can ask for in a book for this age level. Recommended.