Tortoise is busy - places to go and rocks to climb - but after getting stuck upside-down, Tortoise’s frustration reaches boiling point and all Tortoise can do is shout in sheer exasperation. Not even a hug from Hedgehog will solve this problem. Luckily Owl is on hand with some wise words; “…to cheer someone up, you must try to understand what they are feeling”.
This is the fourth book from McLaughlin and Dunbar featuring Hedgehog and friends and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s a wonderful heart to this book which Dunbar captures with her gentle watercolours. While the animals are clearly lined, the shifting skies above them echo the emotional journey that Tortoise and Hedgehog find themselves on; from sunshine, to gently blurred inky clouds, and finally, to a peaceful night moon. There’s a softness to the illustration here which works well with the story - who couldn’t but love Tortoise’s rosy cheeks and Hedgehog’s little tummy?
As with many picture books, there is an underlying message but unlike many it’s handled with deftness and gentle comedy, which allows the story to both exist as its own little woodland incident and also as a conversation starter if you’re so inclined. Sometimes hugs can’t fix everything, but taking the time to understand another person’s feelings can go a long way to making them feel better. It’s another strength of the book that the animals don’t fall into clear parent-child roles and so chats around the book can be a lot more fluid.