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Home > Categories > Books > Kids - Junior > The Hug Blanket review

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Score: 9.6/10  [3 reviews]
5 out of 5
ProdID: 8693 - The Hug Blanket
Written by Chris Gurney

The Hug Blanket
Sample/s Supplied by:
Click to search for all products supplied by Scholastic (NZ)

Disclosure StatementFULL DISCLOSURE: A number of units of this product have, at some time, been provided to KIWIreviews by Scholastic (NZ) or their agents for the sole purposes of unbiased, independent reviews. No fee was requested, offered nor accepted by KIWIreviews or the reviewers themselves - these are genuine, unpaid consumer reviews.
August 2020

The Hug Blanket product reviews

Proud to promote NZ products"It smells like sunshine,
It sounds like whispers,
It looks like rainbows...
It feels like love."

This is a book for young children who are dealing with grief. Chris Gurney's sensitively written prose shows children it is okay to feel sad, and that comfort can be found in simple things.

The vibrant, evocative illustrations are by Lael Chisholm.

Check out Scholastic (NZ) onlineClick here to see all the listings for Scholastic (NZ) Visit their website They do not have a Twitter account Check them out on Facebook They do not have a YouTube Channel They do not have a Pinterest board They do not have an Instagram channel They do not have a TikTok channel

beach   blanket   chris gurney   family   grief   lael chisholm   loss   love   nana   nzmade   scholastic   shell
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Product reviews...

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Click here to read the profile of jasminem

Review by: jasminem (Jasmine)
Dated: 15th of September, 2020

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This Review: 9.8/10
Age Appropriate:
Score 9 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 10 out of 10

The Hug Blanket is a lovely book focussed on dealing with grief. It is suitable for a large age range of children due to the heavy topic. The story is focussed around a young girl who recently lost her nana. The book suggests we make connections with items connected to our loved ones - allowing us to always keep them in our heart.

The story is suitable for young children from the angle of connecting with our family. Children new to school could also be introduced to this story from the angle that although we may miss family when apart, we will are never fully apart. For older children, this text can open up a lot of discussion about death and what it means. As a teacher, I talked with my class after reading this text about death and how, although it is inevitable, we never forget those who are no longer with us. We have memories, and other ways to remember them by - in this case, a blanket.

The story itself is written well and uses some lovely imagery. The author uses the senses to engage with the reader. This encourages the reader to emotionally connect all our their senses to the story, and therefore the feeling of love.
"It smells like sunshine,
It sounds like whispers,
It looks like rainbows...
It feels like love."

Click here to read the profile of savta

Review by: savta (Jo)
Dated: 20th of August, 2020

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This Review: 9.0/10
Age Appropriate:
Score 8 out of 10
Score 9 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 9 out of 10

Miss Eight has lost three close relatives in the last few years - a great-aunt, a great-grandmother, and her grandfather. Of the three, her grandfather was the closest to her. They had many happy times together, planting and weeding in his garden, looking at memorabilia from when he was a young man, and sharing his favourite food. He loved gingernut biscuits and licorice allsorts, and it was he who taught her to dunk the biscuits in a glass of hot milk - an amazingly happy shared memory.

When we read this book together, Miss Eight interrupted frequently to talk about yet more memories that resonated with her. She thought the hug blanket was a lovely keepsake for the girl to remember her Nana by, but told me her own favourite item was the little metal chest in which her grandfather kept all sorts of bric-a-brac. Most, apart from the medals, had no monetary value, but each item had a story attached and made her think of him just as the girl in the story wrapped the blanket around her when she wanted to feel close to her Nana. That metal chest is 100 years old and now it belongs to Miss Eight, together with all its assorted contents.

When we reached the section that described how the girl and her brother decorated the steps with the shells that Nana loved, Miss Eight recalled that she and her brother had set out pine cones on Grand-dad's back steps while he sat and watched them. What impressed her was the number of parallels between the girl and her Nana, and Miss Eight's relationship with her own grand-dad. They were different, but they had the same effect of making her remember him with nostalgia and love. There is still a framed photo of him in pride of place in the living room - just as there are photos of the girl's Nana on the walls in the book.

In the story, Nana wears colourful swirling skirts and appears full of life when she interacts with her grandchildren. Miss Eight's grandfather often stayed in his pyjamas all day when he was unwell, but she said that was because he was a man and did not live at the beach like Nana! In the graveyard scenes, Miss Eight recognised the familiarity of the burial and headstone, and was prompted again to talk of her own experiences when he died, and how all her cousins and the rest of the family came together to remember the good times.

I asked her if she would recommend the book to other children and was interested in her response - it was much the same as my own, but was completely spontaneous. Firstly, she thought the book was more suitable for older children. It was recommended for children aged 3 and over, but she thought it might be confusing for pre-schoolers. At the relatively mature age of eight, she understood that the Nana character stood for any special person, male or female, who might have passed and left children behind. In her own words, "a three or four year old might be scared because if they had a nana it would make them worry that person might die too." She also thought the whole idea of the coffin in the church, the open grave, and the loss of an old person that was a precious family member might be too hard to understand for a child who had never experienced this kind of loss.

I cannot fault the book in terms of the craft. The story is beautifully written and some of the phraseology is sheer poetry; we both loved the description of the blanket as sounding like whispers and feeling like love. The pictures emphasise the bond between the child and her Nana; they appear very close whether snuggled up in bed or playing ghosts with the tablecloth. Clearly the intergenerational bond is very strong; as memories are forged, the girl is progressively better equipped to remember the happy times. Amidst the sadness there are also many wonderful things to treasure.

Click here to read the profile of karenkearney

Review by: karenkearney (Karen)
Dated: 19th of August, 2020

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This Review: 10/10
Age Appropriate:
Score 10 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 10 out of 10

Very real. Bittersweet and written lovingly. Chris Gurney opens up a way for parents and educators to discuss feelings of love and loss. With a distinctly New Zealand touch, complete with beautiful illustrations by Lael Chisholm, the story will evoke a range of emotions.

It's very hard to find a children's book that openly discusses death. It's a topic that many adults try to hide from children in an attempt to shield them from hurt. But as we know, children are like little sponges and though they may not understand exactly what is going on, they will absorb the sadness and emotion around them. Without guidance and love, experiencing the loss of a loved one can create confusion and fear.

Written from the perspective of a child, whose memories are brought to life in words and pictures, loss is explained to her in a simple honest way. As the book navigates through the characters feelings of sadness and loss, we witness the pure innocence of childhood. Chris Gurney adds a sprinkling of humour and hope as we wind to the end of the story, where there is a measure of peace and acceptance. I sincerely applaud the author for the courage it took to write this book. I highly recommend it as a "must have" in any children's library.

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