'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 20 March 2014

Review: Waiting for Hugo

Hugo loves to count things. Even though he is only almost four, he already loves numbers and is fascinated by counting – steps, bags, shoes, balloons and even trolleys at the supermarket. Hugo REALLY loves to count.

His sister isn’t impressed. Hugo’s need to count everything often makes them late. Sometimes little brothers can be very annoying, but sometimes (just sometimes) their annoying habits aren’t quite so bad after all. Fortunately, Hugo’s counting does have its advantages, as our young narrator discovers when her parents reveal that Hugo was busy at the school fair counting competition, winning a huge jar of jelly beans for his efforts.

As the oldest of three children, I can still remember times of frustration growing up as I had to make allowances for my younger sisters. Now with three children of my own, I am encouraging the older kids to remember that their younger brother can’t always do things as quickly and easily as they can. It can seem so unfair to an older sibling when they are constantly asked to be patient with their younger brother or sister.

For Hugo’s sister, the frustration comes from Hugo’s need to count. He counts EVERYTHING. His counting makes him stand out to other children and it makes her family run late. When her parents are late to pick her up from the school fair, she just knows it is because Hugo was busy counting.

I like that Hugo’s need to count is simply part of who he is. Perhaps it is part of a deeper issue, or perhaps it is simply one of the quirky obsessions of a young child. Either way, his sister is reminded at the end of the story that it is simply Hugo. Counting makes him happy, and sometimes his counting skills can make her happy too.

Waiting for Hugo is a lovely story that reminds children sometimes the things we love don’t appeal to others, and sometimes we need to be patient with others if their interests don’t match ours. It offers parents the opportunity to initiate conversations with children about appreciating and encouraging others, showing patience with younger siblings, and accepting people as they are. It also highlights one common habit of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, potentially creating opportunities for parents to discuss the impacts of this Disorder with siblings in an indirect way.

Title: Waiting for Hugo
Author: Amanda Niland
Illustrator: Claire Richards
Publisher: Windy Hollow Books, $25.95 RRP
Publication Date: 2013
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781922081216
For ages: 4-7
Type: Picture Book