Friday 25 March 2016

Big Hug Books

Big Hug Books by Shona Innes, illustrated by Irisz Agócs (The Five Mile Press)
HB RRP $14.95
ISBN 978-1-76006-055-8 - Life
ISBN 978-1-76006-056-5 - Friendship
ISBN 978-1-76006-416-7 - Internet
ISBN 978-1-76006-415-0 - Playground

Reviewed by Jacque Duffy

While waiting at a local department store I peeked into a package I had collected at the post office. What I saw made me gasp. I reached in and withdrew four beautiful books, I had only glimpsed the covers, but I was in love. I held them to my chest in a hug, and when I pulled them back for a better look I laughed. Each title is part of a collection called The Big Hug Book – how appropriate.

This series of books was created by Shona Innes, a qualified clinical and forensic psychologist with many years of assisting children. Don’t be put off by her qualifications; each book is presented in a way that is perfect for the young child to grasp the meaning within. Important issues of the playground, friendship, dangers of the internet,
and death, are each approached and handled in a friendly, fun, yet delicate way that truly imparts a strong message.

The Hungarian illustrator, Irisz Agócs studied cultural anthropology and ethnography at University; thankfully she gave that away and moved on to her passion, so becoming an illustrator.

These are marvelous books for an independent reader to enjoy in a quiet moment. They are perfect for parents of a younger child to assist in explaining why things aren’t going smoothly with friends and family, or the dangers of the internet, without being preachy. They would also work successfully if read by a teacher to her class group. Young children should ask many questions as the illustrations depict body language and facial expressions in such a way the characters come to life.

The illustrations, simple and soft, show a diverse group of animals each with a definite personality. They will assist children to identify themselves and their feelings. They are inviting, and as the title of the series suggests, they are like a big hug. Children with personal issues should not find them confronting at all.

These books would appeal to teacher librarians as much as to parents. They cover important issues that children deal with every day and are presented in a very reader-friendly format.

Jacque Duffy is the author and illustrator of the series ‘That’s not a …” learn to read books used in all Queensland State Primary Schools, two picture books and one local history book.

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