Review of Simona Ciraolo’s Hug Me

By / Sep 22nd, 2014 / / No comments

“Ever feel like you need a big hug? That’s how Felipe the young cactus feels, but his family just isn’t the touchy-feely type. Cacti can be quite prickly sometimes you know…But Felipe’ll be darned if this pointy issue will hold him back. So, one day, Felipe sets off on his own to find that long awaited hug”

Hug Me‘s heartwarming plot, stunning visuals and genuinely funny cacti-based humour will leave you crossing your fingers, hoping that it becomes your child’s favourite book so that you have an excuse to read it over and over.

Simona Ciraolo studied Animation at the National Film School in Turin, Italy, before moving to the UK where she took an M.A. in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. She has worked as a freelance 2D animator for kid’s TV shows as well as illustrating five picture books for an independent Italian publisher, and has recently won the Sebastian Walker Award for her buoyantly witty stories.

Using materials familiar to a young audience, Simona adopts a playful illustration style to create a strong visual narrative throughout Hug Me. A particular visual highlight is the way in which Felipe’s family is depicted with simple, linear facial expressions which perfectly capture this upper-class cacti family. The book’s brilliant design and rustic charm is enhanced by its luxuriously smooth paper and thick, canvas cover.

Of course, no children’s tale is complete without a moral. Speaking about the book, Simona describes it as a story, “about holding onto the very thing that matters the most to you, even when everyone else around thinks you should let it go”. A simple and positive message, beautifully translated through Felipe’s quest to find and hold onto friendship and affection.

Another important lesson learnt along the way is that if you are a cactus, it is maybe not the best idea to attempt to hug a balloon.

You can see more of Simona‘s work over on her website,


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