A Glowing GROUP HUG Review from Across the Pond!

I was thrilled when GROUP HUG was sold by the Macmillan sub-rights team for publication in the UK by Scallywag Press. And now readers the world over are enjoying this sweet story of friendship and inclusivity. So, I’m especially excited that Books for Keeps, the UK’s leading children’s book magazine, discovered it too … and topped off the good news with this glowing review!

“This wonderfully clever and inventive story about needing hugs all round is the perfect answer, both during the current pandemic and the soon (hopefully) end of such, because everyone needs hugs, it doesn’t matter how young or old we are.  The rhymes are very skilful and funny, and the illustrations huggable; the inclusivity ticks lots of boxes too.  But it is the whole that is so impressive.  First of all comes a slug in need of a hug: ‘Along came a beetle, a lonely ol’ bug.  You need a hug?  I have one said Slug, to keep your heart snug.’  And so it goes.  A mouse, a squirrel, a skunk (not the happiest of huggers), a beaver, a porcupine (quill-less), a groundhog, a goose, a fox and a moose – and after each addition there is a bigger and bigger group hug until it becomes huge. ‘Then along lumbered Bear needing someone to care. Not to snack on, I swear… yet they shouted, BEWARE!’ But the others are too scared to add him to the mixture, and they scatter to the four winds.  Only the Slug is left because he understands that those who give hugs ‘find happy as much as the hugged’.  On the final page we see the whole crew reunited in one humongous hug.  Brilliantly executed and full of the repetition and colour that appeals so to the young.”

Hooray!

(To find out more about GROUP HUG or to purchase your copy check out the GROUP HUG book page.)

GROUP HUG Kindness Craft – Make a “Hug” Jar!

Since my latest book GROUP HUG hit bookstore and library shelves, I’ve had so much fun reading and talking about hugs. But as we all know, and especially now, hugs aren’t appropriate or possible in every situation.

But there are so many ways to show kindness.

We can offer a kind word. Help with a chore. Give a wave or a smile. Write a letter. These are all great ideas! And here’s one more –

we can make our someone special a hug jar!

Here’s what you’ll need: a clear glass or plastic jar – a clean peanut butter jar is perfect – or an old vase, scissors, paper (any colors will do) tape, and crayons or markers.

And here’s what you do:

  • Cut out the heart for your face. In the video below, I’ll show you a nifty way to make a heart. But, if it’s easier, I created a template that you can download right here!
  • Now draw a face on it. You can add hair and a smile … even eyelashes if you want.
  • Then, cut out your heart hands – two of them, smaller than the face, a different color or the same.
  • Next, cut out your hugging arms – two of them, however long you want them to be. You can make them a different color or the same as your heart face. Either is just fine.
  • Tape the arms to the back of the heart face. And tape the heart hands to the back of the arms.
  • Then with your heart face at the back peeking through your jar, wrap your arms around the jar and use a little bit of tape to hold it all in place.
  • And to finish it off, add a sign “Hugs for (Fill in the name of your someone special here!)”
  • Now comes the best part – filling the jar with “hugs.” Cut up pieces of paper. You can even use scrap paper. And on each piece, write a special note, a kindness, a compliment, or draw some art. And then fold it up and add it to the hug jar. Hug messages might include something like:
    • I love you.
    • Love and kisses.
    • You are my sunshine.
    • You’re a wonderful reader.
    • I love playing games with you.
    • I love when you sing.
    • I’ll pick up my toys.
    • Thank you for being my grandma!
    • A picture of a rainbow.
    • A picture of a beautiful tree
    • A picture of your dog
    • A self-portrait

You can add as many “hugs” as you want. And your special person can pull out a hug once a day or whenever they need one. Because you can always fill up their jar again when they run out.

To make things even easier, check out my step-by-step “Hug” Jar Video.

Friends, you can make a hug jar for any special someone. And I guarantee that every time you make someone happy with a kindness, you’ll feel happy too. Because, after all, “a hugger finds happiness ‘longside the hugged.”

I hope you love GROUP HUG!

Give yourselves a great, BIG hug from me. And have a great rest of your day!

(To find out more about GROUP HUG or to purchase your copy check out the GROUP HUG book page.)

 

GROUP HUG – A Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift!

Are you looking for a fresh & fun Valentine’s Day gift or storytime read? How about GROUP HUG from

Macmillan/Henry Holt/Godwin Books, Joey Chou and me? Through a forest of friendly animals, our latest picture book encourages kindness and the contagious happiness that hugs can bring. Just add kisses!Face throwing a kiss

“This sweetly endearing charmer, highlighting kindness, is expressed in jaunty, witty rhymes that read and scan beautifully … Readers will embrace this captivating winner.”

– Kirkus STARRED Review –

“The economic text has a surfeit of aural pleasures, and Reidy (Truman) strikes a comic tone that never sinks into sentimentality: an overworked beaver is beckoned with ‘Come join our crew./ Let the hugging ensue!’ Digital art by Chou (Ways to Welcome) combines strong lines and shapes with intricate, expertly balanced overlays of color and texture. Together, text and art radiate a sense of unalloyed communal joy.”

– Publishers Weekly –

“(A)n excellent storytelling experience … enhancing the message of kindness and understanding.”

– School Library Journal –
With gratitude,
Jean

Foreign Rights Deals for Two Favorites!

It’s extra fun when wonderful things happen to backlist picture books! ALL THROUGH MY TOWN and BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK! will now be published in China, thanks to the awesome foreign rights team at Bloomsbury! Hooray!

If you’d like to find out more about these two books or purchase copies, check out these book pages:

   ALL THROUGH MY TOWN

BUSY BUILDERS, BUSY WEEK!

Have a great weekend and happy reading, friends!

Three New Picture Books in 2022!

Happy New Year, friends!

While this first week of 2022 has already seen its fair share of bad news, I wanted to share some good news that puts a smile on my face and that I hope will do the same for you.

I have three new picture books coming out in 2022!

The first is Sylvie, coming in May from Atheneum/Simon & Schuster and illustrated by my Truman pal, Lucy Ruth Cummins. Sylvie is the story of a sweet and surreptitious spider with a big, bold heart, who hangs outside an apartment building giving her a unique perspective on four special people – and one brave tortoise – who live inside. And what she decides to do for them is nothing short of magnanimous! You can preorder Sylvie right here: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.

Next out is A Grand Day, coming in July from Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster and illustrated by amazing paper-cut, 3-D artist Samantha Cotterill. This rhyming, warmhearted picture book celebrates the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren in every kind of family and the joy they find when they’re together. You can preorder A Grand Day right here: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

And finally, Me and You in a Book Made for Two, comes out in August from HarperCollins. This is the second in my What Would You Do collaboration with illustrator Joey Chou. It’s about the joy of sharing your story with a friend or someone special. Twice the adventure! Double the fun! You can preorder Me and You in a Book Made for Two right here: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.

Amazingly, all three stories incorporate gatherings, friendship, family, togetherness and community – themes we’ve sorely missed these last two years. Friends, I’m excited not only for these but also for the hundreds of other amazing titles hitting bookstore and library shelves in 2022. So, it will be a busy year, for sure.

Wishing you all a new year full of peace, love, hope … and hours of happy reading!

Jean

School Library Journal Loves GROUP HUG!

And I’m loving their review! Thank you School Library Journal!

“A group hug begins when one very kind slug hugs a lonely beetle. A mouse then stumbles onto the scene, and the hug expands; skunk, squirrel, and beaver follow, and so the comfort of a hug is shared with every animal that feels frustrated, down, misunderstood, or alone. Frightened when a bear appears, the animals scatter, but the slug remains to show how the hugger finds happiness, too. Rhyme and repetition create an excellent storytelling experience for young children. Bright digital artwork renders every beautiful characterization, enhancing the message of kindness and ­understanding. VERDICT The need for a hug and the expression of different emotions is a valuable lesson, making this a good candidate for curriculum units discussing feelings.”

If you’d like a copy for yourself or a young reader in your life, buying options are right here: 
Hugs all around!
Jean
 

Hooray! GROUP HUG is out today!

Hooray! GROUP HUG is out today from Macmillan/Henry Holt/Godwin BooksJoey Chou and me! Kirkus Reviews calls it “a captivating winner.” Publishers Weekly says it “radiate(s) a sense of unalloyed communal joy.” And School Library Journal calls it an “excellent storytelling experience.” If you’d like a copy for yourself or a young reader in your life, buying options are right here: 
Hugs all around!
Jean

Give Hugs this Holiday Season!

“This sweetly endearing charmer, highlighting kindness, is expressed in jaunty, witty rhymes that read and scan beautifully … Readers will embrace this captivating winner.”

– Kirkus STARRED Review –

“The economic text has a surfeit of aural pleasures, and Reidy (Truman) strikes a comic tone that never sinks into sentimentality: an overworked beaver is beckoned with ‘Come join our crew./ Let the hugging ensue!’ Digital art by Chou (Ways to Welcome) combines strong lines and shapes with intricate, expertly balanced overlays of color and texture. Together, text and art radiate a sense of unalloyed communal joy.”

– Publishers Weekly –

“(A)n excellent storytelling experience … enhancing the message of kindness and understanding.”

– School Library Journal –
Coming 12/14/21! Order it now!
With excitement and gratitude,
Jean