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Mr. Prickles: A Quill-Fated Love Story

By Kara LaReau, illustrated by Scott Magoon

A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, $14.99, ages 2-6

This year for Valentine’s Day the story selection is superb, with books about cupid, kisses, and hugs. But my favorite by far is about Mr. Prickles, a porcupine looking for friends in all the wrong places. Is it his barbed approach that keeps friends beyond reach? Filled with wonderful wordplay and delightful art, this book is sure to please throughout the year.

No matter how he tried, Mr. Prickles simply did not fit in with the other woodland animals because, “By their very nature, porcupines are very hard to get close to.” Despite his pointed overtures seeking out Raccoon, Chipmunk or Skunk, Mr. Prickles remained very lonely. He was left out of assorted activities until he looked no further than a neighboring stump. It was there he discovered Miss Pointypants. Rather than shake hands, these sharp but segregated creatures “regarded each other pointedly.” Together they learned what they could offer each other whether dining together or watching a romantic moonrise. No longer caring what the other animals said or did, Mr. Prickles and Miss Pointypants fell in love. “I don’t feel so prickly anymore,” Mr. Prickles said. “On the inside, anyway.”

This Valentine’s Day, Ronna also recommends

  • Plant a Kiss, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, HarperCollins, $14.99, all ages.
  • Where Does Love Come From?, illustrated by Milena Kirkova, Accord Publishing, $9.99, ages 2-5.
  • Love Waves, written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages 3-7.
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In Search of Hugs

Hugs from Pearl ($14.99, HarperCollins Children’s Books, ages 3 and up) will put a smile on your child’s face as well as yours. Author/illustrator Paul Schmid set out to reach the highest level of adorableness with this picture book, and he did it quite well. The story and the illustrations are simple in a most wonderful way.

Pearl is a child who loves to give hugs. I suppose this is a good time to mention that Pearl is a porcupine, so you can just imagine the challenges she has finding others who want to hug her back. But Pearl is very resourceful and figures out a most clever way to solve her problem. Okay, now you’re intrigued. So was I!

Of course, I’m not going to tell you what the solution is.  You’ve got to read the book yourself.  So go ahead and get this book today. I guarantee you’ll get a hug from your child after reading it.

Today’s picture book was reviewed by Debbie Glade.

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Are You The Next Great Children’s Book Author?


box-and-book-lrDid you know that the annual Cheerios New Author Contest launches today! Do you have the ‘write’ stuff?
Are you an ambitious writer eager to pursue your dream of creating a children’s book that will be remembered years from now? If you are, you probably need no encouragement from us, so just click here to enter. The contest (, which is seeking the next great children’s book author, encourages aspiring authors nationwide to submit an original story, in either English or Spanish, for children ages three to eight.

In 2010, mom and small business owner Laurie Isop, of Renton, Wash., was named Grand Prize Winner and received a $5,000 cash prize. Also, beginning in late March, Laurie’s book How Do You Hug a Porcupine? will be featured in more than two million Cheerios boxes nationwide, with hard covers becoming available in July.

Isop offered some tips for raising kids who love books: “Start early, and don’t just read the words. Use as much inflection and drama as possible.” She encourages parents to offer a variety of books so children have lots of options. “Eventually they’ll find a character or subject they connect with, and voila! They’re hooked on reading!” She also says, “Don’t be afraid to conjure up your own books. When my youngest was four his preschool class got to visit a working construction site. That evening I wrote a little story on my computer. It was all of ten pages and had clip-art for illustrations. It was called Erik Visits the Construction Site. I used his name on every page and he just loved it; he begged me to read it to him again and again.”

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