When I was preparing for this Trendy Tuesday review, I found many new picture books that connected with their readers in a stilted way. For that reason, I immediately fell in love with the sentimentality of the Hug Machine by Scott Campbell! The book follows the story of a young boy who declares himself the “hug machine”, posturing that he can hug anyone in the entire world. He proceeds to go around, hugging everyone we would expect: friends, next door neighbors, and siblings. My favorite part of this segment of the book is the page below. I love the hug machine’s excitement at accomplishing his mission–to spread love to everyone around him.
However, as soon as it appears that he has hugged everyone, various characters come out of the woodwork, recognizing their inability to be hugged. The hug machine immediately accepts their challenges and adapts his hugging style to spread the love even further. To me, this is the beautiful message of the book: no matter who you are or what traits you have, you can still be loved. Finally, at the very end of the book, the hugging machine is completely tuckered out. He is practically falling on the floor from exhaustion. But, he still has enough energy left to be hugged by his mom.
Maybe it’s because I’ve read studies on the importance of touch for children, or maybe it’s because I still miss my mom’s loving embrace; but I was completely drawn into this book from the beginning. I loved the way that Campbell’s simple pictures of hugs showed how powerful the spreading of love and acceptance can be. This is a message that students must learn these days. With the variety of cultures, skills, sexualities, and opinions, universal acceptance is key. Therefore, I highly recommend this book. The illustrations might not be the most elaborate, but their simplicity places the meaning at the forefront of the book. I know that I will definitely be buying a copy!