Posted by: jeannineatkins | October 17, 2011

Hugs in Picture Books

I was excited before Picture Book week, in the MFA class I teach at Simmons College at the Carle.

Of course I’d been equally enthusiastic approaching Folk Tales, Novels for Middle Grade Readers, and Poetry, and know I’ll be just as excited before the genres we focus on during weeks ahead. But with a wealth of picture books they might read, I’m not going to say my selection was random, but… I couldn’t include every book I love. So my hands moved somewhat freely as I looked for variety on the syllabus and shut my eyes against what I’d have to leave out.

During class, I went over some of what makes a great picture book, and the students responded to what worked for them in the reading. And as this happened, I noticed a theme in resolutions. If you don’t want spoilers, stop here. Some students, like me, were swept away by City Dog, Country Frog  by Mo Willems and enjoyed the double story for parents and children in Knuffle Bunny, which ends with Trixie hugging her lost-then-found bunny.

We discussed the spare text of No, David! by David Shannon, and how the mayhem ends with that round head being snuggled within his mom’s arms.

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz gave us a somber look at a divided neighborhood, with the last page showing two once unfriendly cats tangled together.

Most were charmed, as my daughter was years ago, by Don Freeman’s Corduroy.  A lonely stuffed bear sets out in search of a lost button, while a girl doesn’t let no stand in her way to the bear with a missing button she loves. They end up together on the last page with,.. you guessed it.

Now as my students write a picture book text for next week, I’ll be watching to see how many conclude with hugs. Or perhaps the other classic ending. We read Good Night, Moon, which ends with a tucked-in bunny, Where the Wild Things Are, which ends with Max standing by his bed, and Make Way for Ducklings, with the family about to go to sleep. What are your favorite endings?



  1. I’m smitten by the glorious ending (and glorious everything else) of Karen Hesse’s Come On, Rain! where the little girl (the narrator) and her mom head home – after a wild dance in the rain with the girl’s friends and their moms – utterly refreshed and with a completely different attitude toward the sun.

  2. Sarah, thank you for finding this! Just thinking of Come on, Rain! Makes me smile. And brings to mind a joyful ending of another book on my list I didn’t mention. At the end of Marla Frazee’s delightful A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, we see the bobbing backs of two friends pretending to be penguins.

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