“A huggable, little monster with a remarkably empathetic heart.”
Among the many monsters available from the monster shelter—who, with characteristics like will “melt in your arms” and “soft like a cotton ball,” are not the least bit scary—Shelly chooses Hugsby, who is “Smart, cuddly, and a great listener.” She and Hugsby enjoy simple pleasures together, like having a tea party, blowing bubbles, and, especially, sharing hugs, but when it’s almost “Pet Monster Show-and-Tell Day” at school, Shelly suddenly worries that the things Hugsby does won’t be interesting to her classmates. She thinks her worries are validated when the first few monsters do impressive feats like flips and tricks. But as Hugsby sees her nervously begin introducing him, he does what he does best—he gives her a hug, a skill the entire class wants to experience. Though the storyline is predictable, Phumiruk’s introduction of pet monsters as completely normal and not requiring any explanation provides an inventive, enjoyable touch. The pencil illustrations digitally textured with watercolors are soft and very fitting for this tender, touching story, and the sequence depicting Hugsby’s noticing Shelly’s increasing nervousness and offering a consoling hug are especially well done in communicating Hugbsy’s impressive capacity for empathy.
Dow Phumiruk is a pediatrician with a passion for creating children’s book art and stories. She has been a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since 2011. She lives in Lone Tree, Colorado with her husband, daughters, and an assortment of small pets (most notably a dwarf rabbit named Lottie and a cute bearded dragon named Sparkles). She is the illustrator of Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines, by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Counting on Katherine, by Helaine Becker, and Mouse’s Christmas Gift, by Mindy Baker. Mela and the Elephant is her author debut. She has four more titles on the way, so stay tuned! When not creating books or teaching medical students, she can be found hiking on trails around Colorado.
For my huggable friends and family
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The art for this book was created with pencil and Photoshop, including scanned watercolor textures.