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The Picture Book Buzz

Hattie & Hudson

A few years ago, my family went camping in British Columbia. We set up our trailer along Lake Okanagan and started exploring. The kids were immediately drawn to a sign and play statute of Ogopogo - a suspected relative of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.

Since we had recently watched the movie WATERHORSE, they were in love with the idea of seeing a lake monster for themselves. They would have loved to be in Hattie's shoes. Even in their twenties, they still smiled at the cover.

Who could blame them. Though it was published last May, I couldn't resist featuring it. Largely because, I too would love to be in Hattie's shoes!

Hattie and Hudson

Author/Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Publisher: Candlewick Press (2017)

Ages: 4-8



Friendship, acceptance, prejudice, and sticking up for what's right.

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

A little girl and her colossal friend teach a monster-size lesson about prejudging others in a charming new offering from Chris Van Dusen.

Hattie McFadden is a born explorer. Every morning she grabs her life jacket and paddles out in her canoe to discover something new on the lake, singing a little song on her way. When her singing draws up from the depths a huge mysterious beast, everyone in town is terrified — except Hattie, who looks into the creature’s friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster. So Hattie sneaks out at night to see the giant — whom she names Hudson — and the two become friends. But how can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn’t scary or dangerous at all? Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying new story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.

Opening Lines:

Hattie McFadden loved to explore. Every morning after breakfast, she'd grab her life jacket, wave good-bye to her parents, and paddle out in the canoe to see what she could see.

Hattie discovered all kinds of things out on the lake.

Why I like this book:

An adventurous girl in a canoe out exploring the lake strikes up a friendship with Hudson, a friendly lake monster who likes her singing. What's not to love?

But, when the town discovers Hudson, the adults react poorly and scheme to rid the lake of "the deadly beast." It's up to the bravery, intelligence, and wisdom of Hattie and Hudson to change the town's mind and save a special friendship.

The illustrations draw you right into the bright, vibrant summer scenes at a sparkling lake. Van Dusen imbues Hudson (and the rest of the characters) with such wonderfully expressive features that it's easy to empathize with their emotions.

Though set in the summer, it is not a strictly seasonal book, but one worthy to be read year round. As the Booklist noted, "The story’s message—don’t judge by appearances—is gently delivered in a tale just right for one- on-one sharing."


- Make or draw your own Hudson or Loch Ness (

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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