#811 – The Big Book of Hugs by Nick Ortner, Alison Taylor, & Michelle Polizzi

Yesterday, was National Hug Day (and Squirrel Appreciation Day, so I hope you hugged a squirrel). Yesterday was also The Big Book of Hugs release day, which could not have been a better choice. I am pleased to bring you a bear occupation I had known little about. Okay, I knew nothing about it, but I do now and soon so will you. Give yourself a big National Hug Day hug and read on to learn of this relatively unknown bear occupation.

a big book hugs cover
The Big Book of Hugs
Series: Barkley the Bear
Written by by Nick Ortner & Alison Taylor
Illustrated by Michelle Polizzi
Hay House     1/21/2016
32 pages    Ages 3—6

“Barkley the Bear is ready to join the family business of giving hugs and spreading love to everyone in the forest. Barkley worries that he will not be able to provide the care necessary for everyone, but he soon finds out how easy it is to help others, and how much you can get in return.” [press release]

Today is Barkley the Bear’s birthday and he is finally old enough to join the family business. Just like most who start a new job, Barkley is nervous. Papa Bear tells his son to start the day by hugging himself.

“Hugging yourself gives you the confidence to share the love you have!”

Wearing an “I  HUGS” badge, Barkley sets out with Papa to learn how to hug. Papa Bear tells his son all about hugs, including the price: free. The one other thing Barkley needs to remember: the hug should match the friend’s need. Close friends get the “surprise hug”—because it’s fun. If someone is going away, you give an “extra, extra, extra long hug.” And just like humans who care for the forest, bears can give “tree hugs.” Throughout the day, Barkley watches his father, learning all the hugs he’ll need to give out in the forest. At the end of the day, Barkley notices Papa Bear has forgotten one very important hug.


The Big Book of Hugs will be a parent and child favorite. I wish I could say the same. I found the font style, size, and placement poorly designed. For example (below spread), one page has at least three inches of blank at the top (sky) and then at the very bottom, in small italics, the text continues with one word. I missed it on the read aloud (first reading), seeing it on the second, slower illustrations-as-the-story read.


Other times, tiny words appear by the hugged animal, (the animals’ response to the hug), but it is again in a tiny font. The extra-large, capitalized, blue font jarringly screams out at the reader. The Big Book of Hugs is a tad wordy. Editing would tighten the story, moving it along at a better pace.

With that said, Children will adore the teddy-bear like Barkley and Papa Bear, who look hug-ready. Barkley’s fedora reminds me of John Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, even though the bears are very different.



The hugs range from the usual (the “bear,” “tree,” “group,” and “surprise hugs”) to the imaginative (the “tornado,” “pick-me-up,” and in your mind hugs), and the odd (“pickle-in-the-middle hug”). The latter is simply an odd name for hugging two at once, with one animal in between two others. Kids will love these hugs, finding them easy to remember, and give out, thanks to those picturesque names. With this in mind, it would have been prudent to include a no-stranger-hug.


Young children, who are still very much in the hugging stage, will love The Big Book of Hugs. Children will find more reasons to pass on their love with a hug, which parents will enjoy, both of which I believe are the authors’ intent. Though I would like to read a tighter story, parents and children will love the otherwise adorable Big Book of Hugs. This is the authors’ and the illustrator’s debut children’s book.

THE BIG BOOK OF HUGS (A BARKLEY THE BEAR STORY). Text copyright © 2015 by Nick Ortner & Alison Taylor. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Michelle Polizzi. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Hay House, Carlsbad, CA.

Purchase The Big Book of Hugs at AmazonBook DepositoryIndieBound BooksApple BooksHay House.

Find The Big Book of Hugs on Goodreads HERE.
Barkley the Bear Website is HERE (note: author is using book and this site to promote his “tapping” business through book buying bonuses)

Meet the author, Nick Ortner, at his website:  http://www.thetappingsolution.com/
Twitter          @nickortner
Meet the author, Alison Taylor, at her website:
Twitter           @
Meet the illustrator, Michelle Polizzi, at her website:  http://www.designbylovelyday.com/
Twitter           @
Find more books at the Hay House website:  http://www.hayhouse.com/
Twitter           @hayhouse

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

THE BIG BOOK OF HUGS. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Michelle Polizzi. Used by permission of Hay House.

Full Disclosure: The Big Book of Hugs by Nick Ortner & Alison Taylor & Michelle Polizzi, and received from Hay House, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


11 thoughts on “#811 – The Big Book of Hugs by Nick Ortner, Alison Taylor, & Michelle Polizzi

  1. This book is really HOT off the press! I What a book for kids who love to hug — or are shy about hugging. I love the theme of this story along with the adorable photos.


  2. What a cute premise! I’m just loving all the newly released and soon-to-be-released bear PBs. Hugs to you, Sue, for your honest review.


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