Hugging Hour! By Aileen Leijten
Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers), 2009.
I did a post on Illustrator John Rocco and came across his wife’s page and was taken with her work as well. I found Hugging Hour! at the Library.
To Drool, it feels like her mom and dad have been gone an awfully long time. So long that she can hardly taste the fried ice cream Grandma made for dinner, or enjoy hide-and-seek with Kip, Grandma’s pet chicken. Not even playing dress up, having a whole snuggly hugging hour with Grandma, or getting to put the sprinkles on the triple-decker cupcakes can put a smile on Drool’s face. “I’m an orphan,” she tells Kip.
A child’s first sleepover at Grandma’s is given a hilarious and tender treatment in this candy-colored book by talented newcomer Aileen Leijten.
Aileen Leijten’s picture book Hugging Hour! is not to be read without sweets on hand. So it is a good thing that Leijten provides recipes for a few of the foods in the book. This is a great book for grandparent’s who are having their young grandchild over for the night, especially if the child is one who has a hard time staying away from home. And maybe this is a good one for parents, to reassure them that just because grandma’s is a place for spoiling, the child still misses their parents and wants to go home.
Drool has a grandma who is available for hour-long hugs, who doesn’t make a big deal over Drool’s messes, or eating vegetables, or playing dress-up with her colorful clothes in her dressing room, or sticking marzipan cake to the ceiling. In fact, Grandma likes indulging in childhood fancies herself, knitting “the longest sock ever” so “there will be plenty of space for goodies in my sock at Christmas.” Then there is Kip, grandma’s pet chicken in blue overalls.
Hugging Hour! is not be accompanied by a reading of Hansel & Gretel.
I was really attracted to the bright softened colors and fun mix of patterns. The delicate sweeping lines add a whimsical flair that is a perfect companion to the text. There is a lot of movement and the modicum of detail to draw the eye without overwhelming or holding the reader too long in the moment. For all the fun activity with Grandma, the time passes quickly enough and Mommy and Daddy have come back.
Aileen Leijten’s website