Hug Machine

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Hug Machine Book Poster Image
Sweetly funny hugger's tale is irresistible read-aloud.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Young children will see the many ways hugs and affection can help people: cheering them up, helping them feel important, calming them down, and so on.


Positive Messages

The Hug Machine is an equal-opportunity hugger. He believes everyone could use a hug, for diverse reasons, and he's eager to help them. When he's worn out and tired from his day's work, the love he's sent out into the world circles back with a deep, warm hug, just for him.


Positive Role Models & Representations

The Hug Machine might seem a bit grabby, roaming the neighborhood with long, outstretched arms, but when he's in hug mode he's the picture of peace: eyes closed, relaxed, and focused on the object of his attention. He turns away no one and nothing: Even porcupines, ice cream trucks, and bears benefit from his devoted affection. 


Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hug Machine, by Scott Campbell, is a perfect book for snuggly story time. This is the instruction manual for hugging you didn't know you needed: Even experienced huggers will pick up some tips from the young hero of the tale. He wraps his long arms around his target, closes his eyes, and relaxes into a deep hug, absolutely focused on whomever -- or whatever -- he's hugging. Warm humor and clever illustrations will make this a go-to bedtime book.

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What's the story?

The wide-eyed, long-armed little boy who calls himself the Hug Machine is on a mission: to hug anything -- and everything! -- in his path. Everyone needs a hug, he figures, and he's just the boy to help them out. If it's spiky, he'll don protective gear. If it's humongous, he'll grab a ladder. If it's an inanimate object, like a park bench or a mailbox, he'll still share some love. Pizza keeps him going, but a long day of hugging tires him out. A loving pair of arms scoops him up and holds him close, because sometimes a hug is just what you need.

Is it any good?

HUG MACHINE begins with the bold claim that the bug-eyed, floppy-armed, red-booted young boy is the best at hugging -- and it's easy to believe. In his first solo book for children, Scott Campbell beautifully blends humor and heart. He creates a winning young hero, earnestly striving to make the world a better place, one hug at a time. Campbell's watercolor illustrations, with a softened palette, enhance the comforting tone. 

The little boy is utterly charming: Persistent and sure of his purpose, he sees hugging as his duty, a talent he must share. Kids will delight in the startled reactions to the boy's hugs and will love following him on his hugging spree through town (and parents will love the hugs that undoubtedly will follow this read-aloud).


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why hugs are so wonderful. What do you like about hugging?


  • Some of the people who receive hugs look a little startled. Talk about times when hugging might not be OK. 


  • When have you hugged someone because you thought they needed a hug?


Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animal stories

Themes & Topics

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