CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 29 . . . . March 30, 2018
As winter approaches, animals are in search of a place to call home during the long, cold months. With limited suitable spaces available and many types of creatures on the hunt, many are buddying up to share any place they can find: bees with ladybugs in a hive, possums with foxes in a burrow, and worms living beneath the earth's surface next to friendly groundhog neighbours! All the animals are partnered up…except for Hedgehog who was perfectly content hogging his hedge and telling anyone who asked to stay with him to: STAY OUT. Eventually, things took a downturn for Hedgehog because, after slamming his door too many times, he destroyed his whole hedge! Now HE was the one in search of a new place to call home.
Hedge Hog! is a story of how teamwork and cooperation will get one further than acting selfishly. After self-destructing his hedge, the hedgehog sheepishly calls upon his closest neighbour, a grasshopper, who was also accustomed to living on his own prior to the season's change. But grasshopper had a drastically different attitude than hedgehog. He happily welcomed all who came knocking on his door, and when hedgehog came, he was welcomed, too. In the end, hedgehog shares a pie he brought and enjoys everyone's company.
As discovered in the story, the book title, Hedge Hog!, is a play on words because the hedgehog hogs his home. After gaining this understanding, it makes sense why the author, Ashlyn Anstee, intentionally split the word "hedgehog" into two words and gave each its own line on the front cover for added emphasis. Within the story, the text is fun to read with speech bubbles, various sizes of fonts to exaggerate parts of speech, bold and underlined words, onomatopoeia, and words included in some of the illustrations (for example: a picture frame in the hedge with the words "home is where the hog is").
This humourous story is sure to be loved by young children and is guaranteed to make readers of all ages smile. In addition to the fun text, as described above, Anstee also constructed colourful, larger than life animations of characters. Hedge Hog! is mostly dialogue between characters as shown through speech bubbles. Anstee cleverly designed the layout of certain pages to resemble a comic book with multiple images on a single page. These dramatized illustrations tell the story on their own, an approach which is particularly appealing to young children who may not be able to accurately read the words on the page (although the word selection throughout the text is quite friendly for early readers).
Andrea Boyd is an early years educator in Winnipeg, MB.