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
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)
Praise for Just Like Heaven:
"McDonnell delivers his message with maximum effectiveness."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for The Gift of Nothing:
"Both Mutts fans and newcomers will appreciate McDonnell's clever wordplay and lovable characters."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A perfect meditation on gift giving and friendship."Kirkus
Praise for The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way):
A New York Times Notable Children's Book of 2017
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017
An Amazon Best Book of the Month (September 2017)
School Library Journal's Best Picture Books of 2017
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Books of the Year 2017
Huffington Post's Best Picture Books of 2017
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2017
A Nerdies 2017 Selection
*"Give this book an F, yes, an F: for fun and funny."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
*"Touches of wit and plenty of zip recommend this for lap-sit sharing."
The Horn Book, starred review
*"Gloriously fun...teeming with visual wit."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
*"Energetic and highly engaging...A brilliant caper that young learners will want to pore over!"School Library Journal, starred review
"McDonnell's work once again proves to be silly, sweet and even timeless."The New York Times Book Review