How to Hug a Cactus by Emily S. Smith

How to Hug a Cactus by Emily S. Smith
Publisher: Larrikin House
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

How do you hug a cactus? I’d really like to know. You see, I love my cactus, and my hugs will help it grow. A young girl explores the possibilities of hugging her most favourite plant, a cactus. With a little help from her family members and a gardening guru, she tries a number of solutions to help solve her prickly problem, all with varying degrees of success. How to Hug a Cactus is a story that will ‘stick’ with many readers.

Cacti need love, too!

Trying to figure out how the world works is an important part of childhood. If people and animals like hugs, why wouldn’t a cactus as well? I loved the main character’s explanations of why she wanted to hug her cactus so badly and how she planned to do so without getting poked by its stiff spikes. This sounded like exactly the sort of stage of life that kids often go through more than once as they grow up, and I loved the quirkiness of it all.

The protagonist was surrounded by supportive family members who had many different suggestions of ways to wrap the cactus up so that she could hug it without getting hurt. It was heartwarming for them to take this new interest of hers so seriously and to keep giving her ideas when the previous ones didn’t work. This is exactly how all families should behave, and I wanted to hug all of them for being so encouraging.

Reading the final scene convinced me that this was a five-star story for sure. While I loved the beginning and middle, too, the twist at the end fit into this world so well that I chuckled and wished for a sequel. It wrapped up the main conflict while leaving a lot of room for readers to wonder about how the main character was going to solve her new dilemma. If the author ever decides to write it, I’d sure like to find out what happens next.

How to Hug a Cactus was utterly adorable.