I'll give away the ending: "The world is so big ... / And yet so small, / It's time that we embrace it all. / That's something that we all can do. / Start with the one who's closest to you." Hard to argue with that if you're a 4-year-old, or the parent of one, however much the cynic in either of you might want to. Hard also to argue with McDonnell's sublime drawing of teeny Jules just managing to hug the chin of a huge, very content blue whalethe whale might be purringor his evocation of a starry night sky with a Jackson Pollock vocabulary of blots and drips. Simple but effective, like the book itself.
The New York Times
McDonnell, creator of the "Mutts" comic strip, knows how to make a little ink go a long way, which is a relief in the overdone universe of picture books. Likewise his message is at once spare and complex.
The Washington Post
McDonnell (Just Like Heaven), creator of the comic strip Mutts, has a fan base that will greet this book with open arms. The strip's hero, the cat Jules, sets out to hug one of every sort of animal in the world. This large goal is made less overwhelming by the book's diminutive trim size and the conviction on Jules's tiny, wide-eyed face (famous for his big red honker). McDonnell's previous books had sparer palettes; this one combines warm, cream pages with pastel ink-and-watercolor vignettes to pleasing effect. Double-page spreads of snowy Arctic expanses under a moonlit turquoise sky provide a tense moment ("But at the North Pole, Jules sadly found/ What it would be like with no one around"). The artist quickly dispels the audience's concern, because as Jules starts to sniff, a polar bear offers him a hug. Meter and rhyme wobble a bit ("There once was a kitten so filled with love,/ He wanted to give the whole world a hug"), but the sentiment seems to come from the heart. McDonnell's carefully mixed gouaches and his able draftsmanship-the rarer the animal, the less likely he is to resort to caricature-hint at newly revealed talents. Ages 3-6. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Readers of the funny pages who turn to the comic strip Mutts are sure to love this little book endorsing environmental awareness, which is written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. All the characters in the book are drawn with the slightly caricature-like style on plain background found in the strip. The story centers on a little kitten, Jules, who wants to give the whole world a hug. He starts embracing and affirming his mistress Doozy, moves on to trees and creatures in his neighborhood. Soon he is on a ship that allows him to hug to all kinds of endangered species in Africa and eventually in the North Pole. In no time, he is back home to give a good night hug to Doozy, philosophizing that the one thing we all can do is start our hugging "with the person closest to you." This story text itself is simple, written in rhyming couplets. While the target audience is the picture book crowd, it may well be picked up as well by adults who are conscious of the importance of valuing our environment and everything and everyone in it, beginning of course, with those closest to us.
School Library Journal
Jules the kitten is so full of love that he wants to hug the whole world. Starting with his best friends, he expands his endeavor to cover the neighborhood and the park, and then journeys to other countries to embrace animals both familiar and exotic. After he himself is hugged by a polar bear, he heads home to bed. Jules, together with the friends who appear briefly, will be familiar to fans of the syndicated comic strip "Mutts," and the energetic, sketchy illustrations seem even more expressive and dynamic in the midst of warm buff background pages. Trying to hug a blue whale or an elephant, this small kitten (with his big red nose) is irresistible without ever crossing the line into saccharine. Unfortunately, the same is not true of the text, which is very simple and focuses only on one idea: hugs. The narrative soon becomes repetitive, and the rhyming verses are sometimes forced, as in "Exploring the rain forest by foot and canoe,/Jules discovered a species brand-new." Still, this book, with its tiny size and small-scale illustrations, might be enjoyed by youngsters when shared one-on-one.
Marian DrabkinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A flock of small, yellow birds sitting in a tree takes flight. The last leaf falls and startles a sleeping bird on the ground below, who looks up to see his flock is gone. Mutts comic-strip character and occasional picture-book star Mooch the cat happens by and explains the flock flew south. The bird has a cry, and Mooch decides to lend a paw. They trek through the neighborhood, the city and a forest as the snows begin to fall. Mooch stops for a snooze, but the distraught bird breaks into tears again. They set off once more and shortly find the flock on a wire. Everyone's happy . . . but Mooch and his new friend must part. This wordless tale of good-Samaritanism and friendship plays out in simple, softly colored watercolors on heavy beige stock, with just enough background sketched in to provide a sense of setting without overwhelming the emotional drama taking place. McDonnell's sense of just-sweet-enough is exactly right, leaving readers feeling as if they are curled on the carpet next to the fire with Mooch. Warm and glowy. (Picture book. 3-7)