Review: Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid

hugs from pearl

Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid

Pearl is a very friendly little porcupine, and one of her favorite things to do is give everyone hugs.  But porcupines are prickly and Pearl’s hugs hurt!  At first Pearl tried keeping Band-Aids handy after hugs, but she didn’t like to make her friends say “Ouch!”  Then she tried pin cushions on her quills, but that took way too long and she couldn’t reach them all.  Pearl tried a long hot bath, but her quills refused to soften.   Pearl decided that she just couldn’t give hugs any more.  But then she got inspiration on her way home from school when she saw some bees buzzing happily among the thorny roses.  Could Pearl have figured out the trick to pain-free hugs from a porcupine?

Schmid has created a story that is simply told and can be read solely as a book about a little porcupine, but it is also a story that could be used for discussions about what each of us has that is prickly and hurts other people and how we can solve it.  The story has a touch of heartache and a real sweetness to it that never becomes sickly sweet or overbearing, instead it has a great freshness to it.

The art is equally fresh with its charming mix of pale greens and pinks.  Pearl herself glows with her pale pink blush, popping on each page compared to the other animals.  Her facial expressions manage to convey deep emotions even though they are just a few lines on the page.  The simplicity in both the text and the illustrations make the book very enticing.

This book is a shining example that adorable, sweet books can also be stirring and warm.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

friends with boys

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Released February 28, 2012.

Maggie McKay has been homeschooled her entire life by her mother, who has left the family.  Now she has to start regular high school, just like her three older brothers have.  Maggie has never had any friends who were girls, happily being friends with just her brothers.  As Maggie starts high school, she discovers the boredom, the cliques, and the first tentative steps at real friendship, even one with a girl!  Add into the mix a tragic ghostly mystery complete with a female ghost who follows Maggie around, and you have an interesting mix of graphic novel, paranormal, and high school reality.

Hicks has created a very engaging graphic novel here with her mix of genres.  Her characters are fully-formed, with all of the major characters displaying real depth.  The relationships between siblings is a large part of the storylines in the novel.   I also appreciated a story about a homeschooled teen who may be hesitant to enter high school but is not specifically troubled by her previous schooling.

The graphic format is well-used here.  The images are regularly used to tell more of the story than the characters’ speech bubbles do.   Done in black and white, the use of shadow and light is very effective.  The story takes several surprising twists, which makes it all the more readable.

A graphic novel about a girl who is not particularly girly is just the right book to have in library collections.   Appropriate for ages 13-15.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.