Title: Our Friend Hedgehog, The Story of Us
Author & Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
Publisher: Random House Kids, May 2020
Chapter Book- 128 pages
Themes: friendship, adventure, woodland animals, mutual support, friendship groups
I received an ARC from the publisher for an impartial review
Sometimes you make a friend and it feels like you have known that friend your entire life. Hedgehog, Mutty, Mole, Owl, Beaver, Hen and Chicks, and me, Annika Mae.
You might think it has always been this way, but it has not.
There was a series of events that brought us all together.
This is our friendship story.
This is the story of us.
Hedgehog lives on a teeny-tiny island with only her stuffed dog, Mutty, for company. When a great storm carries Mutty away, she embarks on a quest to find her friend. Following the trail of clues Mutty left behind, brave Hedgehog meets a wiggly Mole, a wordy Owl, a curmudgeonly Beaver, a scatterbrained Hen and Chicks, and a girl who’s new to the neighborhood, Annika May. With bravery and teamwork, there’s nothing that can stop these seven from finding Mutty, but along the way they discover something even more important: each other.
Why I like This Book:
At bedtime when I was little, my dad used to make up stories which were a mish-mash of two of my favorites The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh (both British classics), Lauren Castillo’s new chapter book feels exactly like that, a wonderful, timeless classic adventure centered around a group of friends and how they find and support each other.
All the heart in the opening I shared with you is fulfilled in the rest of this first story in a series. I have followed Lauren’s career on social media for years now, and Hedgehog has been developing for a long long time. Some characters and their stories are years in the making. Somehow watching Hedgehog evolve through hundreds of thumbnail sketches has brought her to life for me. Lauren achieves so much personality in her animals, and I guess, to borrow a quote, I feel like I have known Hedgehog all my life and am immersed in her world and its struggles. The illustrations invite interaction with this sweet world.
This is a gem of a story to read at bedtime with your kids but is also a perfect choice for independent reading. The biggest challenge is wondering how long we will have to wait for book 2. Book 1 releases this May.
More information about Lauren can be found at her website.