Hug Me plays with the prickly characteristic of cactuses and makes this a part of their human qualities. Young Felipe’s family is depicted as prim and proper, believing “one should never trespass into another’s personal space.” The accompanying illustrations are quirky, depicting well-posed plants of social and physical stature, while Felipe is little and clumsy, trying to find comfort among his peers.
“He could see his family wasn’t the touchy feely type.”
Felipe’s story is one of pursuit and finding comfort in his own skin. While his family encourages him to focus and stay still, Felipe simply wants to be touched by another’s hug. A disastrous encounter with a wandering balloon leaves Felipe disappointed – and on the cover of the neighborhood newspaper. After secluding himself from others and accepting that no one would ever want to share his space, Felipe encounters a lonely rock, Camilla, and the illustrations demonstrate how two uncommon individuals find common ground in friendship.
Young readers may identify with Felipe’s journey of finding friends in a challenging environment. His struggle is relatable and empathetic, and his delightfully illustrated character is welcoming and warm, despite his prickly exterior.
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