Tag Archives: hug me picture book

my six favorite picture books of 2014

I give you, my six very favorite books of 2014 and why.

(Please remember I haven’t read every book published this year—how I wish Viva Frida and The Farmer and the Clown were at my library—sigh.  So do tell me your favorites in the comments for us all to check out when we can!)

(Please also remember that I was selective. Hugely, massively, almost impossibly selective.)

I’m choosing just the books that really wowed me. Me as a particular reader. And me as a particular writer who took inspiration from these, some because they’re exactly what I’d like to create and some because they’re exactly the wonderful kind of thing I never ever could.

Here goes.


Sparky by Jenny Offill & Chris Appelhans.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this book. I was being selfish with it, it’s true. (Though the main character did once get a fashion shootout for best homemade costume!) The girl’s narration is pitch-perfect. Hilarious. Insightful. Childlike and sophisticated, that coveted combination. It will make you laugh and then melt your heart at the end.




Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo.

What is this book honest about? It’s honest about Felipe the Cactus’s prickly family. Of course all families aren’t prickly, but to portray one that is that way, I find truthful and daring. Authentic and helpful. And yet, it’s fun!  Not mention how adorable Felipe is or the way he journeys to finally find kinship.



Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam.

This picture book really packs a punch. Incredibly beautiful cut-paper scenes and then the quiet, touching heart of the story: A little boy who is kind to a fox. And the fox’s gift in return. A story for winter and kindness and slowing down to look.


THE-RULES-OF-SUMMER-2014Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan.

It’s impossible for me not to like one of Tan’s books. This one showcases his bizarreness at its finest. Not only that, it’s a portrait of a complicated sibling relationship between two brothers. There are layers to look at and puzzles to contemplate. All in the most enjoyable, poignant way.




Beekle by Dan Santat.

Beekle is so adorable that I had to craft him out of marshmallows. I think this is a character that will stick around. He’s brave and good and you just want to give him a squeeze. Plus, he’s the charming star of a magical story of imagination and friendship. There’s a friend out there for everyone, if you just believe. This picture book reminds me a whole lot of a couple of my very favorite books ever.



Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts.

This book is beautiful and stylish and heartwarming. But what sticks out most to me is what a fabulous example of writer and artist collaboration it is. Beaty and Robertst are so clearly a team and they’ve created a collaborated quilt of loveliness and detail and surprise.



Cheers to another year of exuberantly wonderful picture books and another yet to come!

(p.s. Here are 10 that took my breath away last year.)


hug me + cute little cactus craft

hug_me_coverHug Me by Simona Ciraolo.


This picture book follows the most adorable cactus named Felipe. It had me at cactus named Felipe! Also, those rosy cheeks!



Felipe wants something, as the title tells us. A hug. But his family isn’t huggy. You know the kind. Poor, Felipe!




Felipe has to look outside his circle of succulents for a hug. Only that doesn’t work out too great either.




One of the things I like about this picture book—aside from its adorableness!—is that it’s honest. Felipe doesn’t fit in his family. And his family doesn’t change. Instead, he needs to find his own kindred spirit, which is sometimes the truth. So I want to give Simona Ciraolo and Flying Eye Books a great big hug for that!


Eventually, Felipe finds someone else who’s in need of a hug too! And that someone else won’t be bothered by Felipe’s spiny physique! I guarantee the last page of this spread will make you want to give your friend, your child, your partner, or your pet a heartfelt squeeze immediately.



Hug Me is a book about being yourself, getting your needs met, and finding a kindred soul. All in a super cute package. Well done!


Thanks to Flying Eye Books for images!



Felipe the cactus is oh so cute, I had to craft a cactus character to hug in real life!

And this one’s not prickly at all! A felt Felipe also serves another purpose. That little cactus is a reminder to hug someone you love and not worry about the cacti who are too prickly to give you a fair shake.







1. Cut a square piece of felt into a rectangle. (Mine was about 6 x 9.5″)

2. Draw Felipe’s face on the middle lower portion of the rectangle. (I used a fabric marker but I’m pretty sure a Sharpie would work.)

3. Trace two small circles on the tissue paper and cut them out. (I traced the marker cap for sizing.)

4. Cut out a small square of tissue paper and wad it on one end so it resembles a flower.

5. Glue the circles onto the cactus’s cheeks and the flower onto its head.


6. Cut a piece of thick twine and coil it. Then tie a knot around one part of the coil. (There’s a lot of finesse in this craft rather than it being precise. Play around!)

7. Finally, fold and tuck the felt into a cactusy-paddle shape and insert the bottom into the twine. Voila! (I realized afterward that you could stuff the cactus shape with tissue paper if you desire.)












What a cutie-pie cactus who deserves a mini-hug!