Audrey Penn's A Pocket Full of Kisses
illustrated by Barbara Leonard Gibson
Book review by Dimitrios Sokolakis
Accepting a little brother
"Can we give him back?" It's a question every kid asks his/her parents when seeing a younger brother/sister start to claim their place (and portion of parental attention) in the family. Promising to be really really good doesn’t work, because no parents are going to return the new kid just because the old one is behaving. That's why Audrey Penn, in her story, A Pocket Full of Kisses, provides useful tips on how to adjust to a new family member in the household.
Chester Raccoon, the eldest son of the Raccoon family, feels frustrated with his little brother Ronny, who’s invading his life. Ronny plays with Chester’s toys, swings on his swings, reads his books and follows him everywhere he goes. That is why Chester asks his mother to give Ronny back.
This seems like a typical family case: a newborn baby is a perfect doll for the older child - a doll whose hands and feet do not come off. However, when the little youngster manages to talk and walk, the older brother/sister searches for the off button.
Chester’s mom explains to him in a motherly tone that “That’s what little brothers do,” then she takes his hand in her own and kisses it right in the middle of his palm.
Mrs. Raccoon has given Chester a Kissing Hand. Chester’s hand, now, becomes magical; when he presses it to his cheek he is able to hear in his head, “Mommy loves you.” His cheeks flush to a primrose pink and he becomes the happiest raccoon in the forest.
However, Chester’s joy vanishes when he discovers his mother giving HIS Kissing Hand to Ronny. “Why did you give Ronny my Kissing Hand, don’t you love me anymore?” Chester asks sadly. “I would never give Ronny your Kissing hand; that was his Kissing Hand. Now you each have one of your own,” Mom assures Chester. But “won’t you run out of Kissing Hands?” Chester replies, puzzled.
Mrs. Raccoon answers with a story about the sun and stars, sharing it with both her sons. “Every night the sun touches every star in the universe. No matter how many stars fill the sky, the sun will never run out of light, and its rays will never stop reaching out to them.” This is the same with Kissing Hands: they are like the sun’s rays, and they‘ll never run out no matter how many a mother girves out to her young, furry lads.
Both Chester and Ronny now seem satisfied with Mom’s words of wisdom. In addition, Chester, as the big brother, gets an extra special gift: a Kissing Hand for his pocket to keep as a spare. “You never know when a big brother might need a little extra help,” Mrs. Raccoon says, making Chester feel important.
Now Chester no longer complains. He hugs his mom and romps away. Love is all around and life goes on!
A Pocket Full of Kisses strengths:
A story that's not just a kisses story, but a K.I.S.S. story: Keep It Simple and Straightforward. A simple message, communicated simply.
I find the story, primarily, a nice tool for parents in the process of adjusting the family to a new arrival.
The messages are sweet and heartwarming, helping children understand that love never runs out, even if we have to share it with younger brothers/sisters.
Illustrations feel sweetly old-fashioned, kind of retro and sweet at the same time.
Room for improvement:
Okay, the story might be called a bit dull, due to a shortage of laugh lines or funny rhymes, and the clichés (like the part with sun’s rays) are a bit obvious; so, I might have spiced it up a bit. Still, it is an honest and heartfelt story that manages to get the point across to a preschooler.
A Pocket Full of Kisses is a sweet and simple story giving useful advice to both parents and children on how a family can be easily re-adjusted when another young fellow joins them.
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