Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Kissing Hand

My friend Nina was in town this weekend and after breakfast this morning we went to the Portlock store near the Locks in Ballard to buy salmon. The shop wasn't open yet, so we wandered over to Epilogue, the used bookstore just down the street.

Nina, who teaches elementary school, headed for the children's books section, where a book cover immediately caught my eye. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn shows a mother and baby raccoon in the dark, silhouetted against a full moon. I picked it up and started reading about a young raccoon who is anxious about his first "night" at school. His resourceful mother comes up with a solution that allows him to bring the comfort of home and family along with him. The book, which Publisher's Weekly described--inaccurately, in my opinion--as "sugary," poses a problem, reveals a solution, and ends with a nice twist. The sophisticated illustrations of the raccoons' nocturnal environment, by Ruth Harper and Nancy Leak, hint that there is more to this than just a fuzzy raccoon tale.

The Kissing Hand has a 5-star Amazon rating, and the Amazon reader reviews are worth a book themselves. One mother wrote of using it after 9/11 to calm her child, who had become upset whenever the father (a police officer) went off to work. College students reported receiving it from their parents, and liking it. Another reader had given it to an 80-year-old aunt. Apparently this is a book for all ages.

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