I love hedgehogs, especially in pictures books. I think this goes back to a book I had as a very young child, Miss Jaster's Garden by N. M. Bodecker. All apologies to Ruth Paul and her charming debut picture book, but I have to take a moment here to share this memorable, out of print book with you. Miss Jaster's Garden might as well have been a fairy tale filled with magic for all my little mind could comprehend when I read it as a kid in San Jose, CA. I had no idea that there could be houses by the ocean with flower gardens and paths and hedgehogs wandering around! And, as a kid who has worn glasses since the age of six, I could relate to the near-sighted, glasses wearing Miss Jaster who mistakenly sprinkles the seeds for a new flowerbed over the napping hedgehog. Flowers grow on Hedgie's back and he even has the chance to admire himself in a puddle. But, the poor old, half-blind Miss Jaster sees the traveling bouquet that Hedgie has become and calls the police. A mad chase ensues (the endpapers of Miss Jaster's Garden have maps of Miss Jaster's estate) and ends happily with tea in the garden and a saucer of milk for Hedgie. Who knew hedgehogs like milk? So many wondrous things for my little mind to take in... Besides being a truly great story that kids will never forget, Bodecker's illustrations are as lovely as a spring bloom with fine lines and gentle watercolors that bring this enchanting, silly story to life. If you EVER see this book for sale anywhere, buy it. I guarantee you there is or will be a child in your life who will cherish this book the way I do mine.
So, back to Ruth Paul and her adorable new book, Hedgehog's Magic Tricks. I get excited every time I see a picture book with a hedgehog as even a minor character (which they are usually relegated to being, who knows why?) But, in Paul's book, Hedgehog is the star of the show, although his show doesn't quite go as planned.
Making Mouse disappear doesn't quite work. Pulling Rabbit out of a hat goes a little better, but not with out a tug or two on the ear. A few more failed magic tricks later, Hedgehog's friends help him out with his by coming up with a trick of their own. A big "Abracadabra!" reveals the prettiest cake I have seen in a picture book in a long time. In fact, I think cake in picture books has to be my second favorite thing after hedgehogs, so in my humble opinion, Hedgehog's Magic Tricks is a big, big hit!
Other picture book hedgehogs I am quite fond of...
Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry
The Quiet Book and The Loud Book written by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska
The Red Wagon by Renata Liwska
Of course, the fantastic Jan Brett always has hedgehogs in her books, even when they aren't the stars!
And, perhaps one of the first picture book hedgehogs, Beatrix Potter's Mrs. Tiggy Winkle.