[Reviewed from Copy Courtesy of Tara Books.]
Hic! is pure fun. It is a happy and sophisticatedly silly picture book that will give you a serious case of the giggles. Everything about this book – from its size and shape, to the beautiful and humorous artwork, to the topic, to the direct but playful writing, to acting out the hiccups – says to children that Hic! is just for them.
We look on as a young girl tries, without success, to cure her hiccups. She’s quite persistent though and tackles each of the eight different suggestions from a book titled, “Eight Ways to Get Rid of Hiccups,” no matter how crazy or absurd they seem.
Each failed attempt to rid herself of the dreaded hiccups results in a huge hiccup explosion that rocks her and everyone around her. After the eighth try — and just when she smiles and thinks that her hiccups are gone — disaster strikes and she’s back to square one. Frustrated, she rightfully storms out of the book hiccuping the whole way.
The book then directly challenges the readers to come up with a better idea on how to stop hiccups. (My sons suggested jumping up and down and bouncing on the couch.) They loved imitating hiccups and enjoy getting louder and louder as the book progresses. It is a lot of fun to see them get so into the book.
Done in eco-friendly, organic, soy-based blue, brown, and black ink on a white background, the artwork is immensely entertaining and elegantly features beautiful images of life in India. The artist, Pieper, does an amazing job of creating hilarious and whimsical scenes that are simultaneously gorgeous.
The design of the physical book is satisfying. It isn’t just a vehicle for the story, it adds to the story itself. The cover has a laminated, smooth feel to it while the pages are rougher than a standard picture book. These qualities give the book more of a presence and add to the overall tactile experience of confronting the hiccups. It is smaller in size than a typical picture book, which means the readers all come in closer together giving it a more intimate experience. It also means it is a more manageable size for little hands as they look through the book on their own. Knowing that the books are hand bound, and that no two books are identical, literally gives them a unique and personal touch.
You don’t have to know anything about India to really love this book, but Hic! will certainly pique your curiosity. I’ve never been to India, so when my sons asked questions I had to look everything up. They wanted to know why the girl was standing in the rain and why where those people in a boat in a city. We talked about monsoons, flooding, hurricanes, and climate change.
My sons asked why our hiccuping heroine was standing next to a cow and why wasn’t the cow on a farm. This led to a great discussion about how in parts of India cows roam freely. They thought that was amazing and that I was making it up until I showed them this post from Vedic Odyssey.
My sons loved it when I would read,”Awallagullagabuggamuggachick!” but it makes me wonder if it is just fun gibberish or if it has a double meaning that I have yet to learn. (Do you know?) My boys love hearing me yelling it out and hearing them yell it out is fantastic.
My boys also asked me about the birds in one of the spreads, which led to me doing some research about the different birds of India. Rajiv Lather, on this website, has an amazing collection of images of the birds of India. So there was this great laughter that then effortlessly turned into a fun lesson about the birds of India.
Hic! is pure fun, but somehow still deftly addresses the fine balance between persistence with knowing when to give up. It can be a light and funny read, but it is also a rich geographic and cultural lesson if you’re unfamiliar with India. It prompts a wide variety of conversations and covers a large span of topics — that it will have you effortlessly giggling and learning throughout.
Recommended Ages 4 to 8. Tara Books. May 2017. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-9383145645 Fiction.
Where to Get it:
- Author: Anushka Ravishankar
- Illustrator: Christiane Pieper
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”