Book Review: The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland

I originally wrote about this book for That Book You Like and I’m a little disappointed that it’s actually taken me this long to feature it on My Little Bookcase because it truly is one of the most-loved books in our home.

Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood have created magic together with this book. A very special, warming and clever story teamed with Freya’s endearing illustrations make this book an absolute delight to read over and over and over again. It is no wonder it has been short-listed for the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year 2012.

The title page and copyright pages feature an almost stop-motion-like set of illustrations as main character, Lucy, gets ready for bed: going to the potty, brushing her teeth and climbing into her all-in-one pyjama suit.

Before this loving little girl can go to bed, she needs a hug from her Mummy. The problem is that Mummy only has one hug left. Lucy and Mummy agree that Lucy will just borrow the hug and she promises to return it.

Lucy runs off to visit each of her family members. She finds dad watching television, her twin brothers are fighting over a toy plane, her baby sister is getting into a jar of peanut butter and her dog, Annie, is drinking out of the toilet.

She gives each of them a hug but, because she is protecting Mummy’s very last hug, she demands that they all give it back.

Each of her family members obliges and returns the hug. This chain of hugs reminds me of a game of Chinese Whispers. Each hug changes and is quite different from the one before, but they are all just as nice. Nick’s various descriptions of hugs certainly leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, making this an ideal bedtime story to read to your children.

There’s just one family member who won’t play by the rules. Annie, the dog, bounds off around the house. No matter how hard Lucy tries she just can’t catch her. As Lucy admits defeat, worried that she’s lost her mum’s last hug, Annie jumps out of nowhere and gives her a slobbery hug,  one that only a dog could give.

Mum is waiting when Lucy finally makes it to bed. Lucy returns the hug and asks for a kiss. Of which mum has plenty.

Freya’s dreamy lines and attention to detail help capture the essence of family in this adorable book. It’s this portrayal of a genuine, honest, warm, loving family that I appreciate most about The Runaway Hug.  The background illustrations show mum scrounging through the laundry to find clothes, the house is in disarray, brothers are skylarking just before bed and the closing page ends with the older children tucked up in bed while Mum is breastfeeding the baby and having a late night chat with Dad on the couch.

I love the concept that hugs are items that we borrow from someone, and return full circle.  This notion certainly ensures that your children will always be giving you hugs, and is the reason you’ll also want to read this book over and over again.

Book Details:

Author: Nick Bland

Illustrator: Freya Blackwood

ISBN: 978-1741698909

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Scholastic, July 2011

RRP: $24.99 (aud)

Suitable for ages 3+

Awards: CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year 2012- shortlisted

Book Review: The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland


  1. AJ said: On August 21, 2012

    This book has just won the children book of the year award. Thanks for a rundown on the story. Can’t wait to share it with my little one!

    • I’m sure you’ll love it AJ. It is a favourite in our house and a thoroughly deserving winner!

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