We love you, Mr Panda by Steve Antony
Hodder, 2020. ISBN: 9781444927924.
(Age: 3) Recommended. Themes: Pandas, Love, Relationships, Friendship, Hugs, Mental health. Mr Panda is giving out free hugs and would love some in return but everyone seems to be too busy hugging someone else. Skunk says he wants a hug but he is talking to Croc. Elephant says he wants a hug but he is talking to Mouse. Mr Panda offers a hug to Sloth but he rejects the offer, saying that he can hug himself. Even a flock of sheep bypass him for the Ostrich.
Slowly he walks away, realising that no one wants his hugs, but as he nears the edge of the page voices call out, asking if he would like a hug. Now he says he would love a hug, and immediately all of his friends come along and hug him to pieces.
A charming tale of friendship, of telling people what you feel, of sharing your feelings with friends, this will encourage younger readers to articulate their thoughts, especially when they are feeling low.
Mr Panda offers himself to all of his friends, but it is only when he says the he would love a hug that they respond.
The funny illustrations parallel the text in showing a dejected Mr Panda come alive when his friends respond. Children will be sad along with Mr Panda when in the middle of the book, his face takes up the whole double page as he realises that no one wants his hugs. And then be happy with Mr Panda when the friends see how low he is and come running. Readers will love spotting the lemur and penguin who accompany Mr Panda on every page except the middle page, and laugh with Mr Panda as he hugs a variety of animals, contemplating perhaps what it would be like to hug a crocodile or an elephant or penguin.
This is the fifth in this series of books, and children will love finding these on the shelves to spot the similarities between them. Look out for Please, Mr Panda (2016), Thank you Mr Panda (2019), Goodnight, Mr Panda (2018) and I'll wait, Mr Panda (2016).