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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on August 19, 2006
I have been a military spouse for 12+ years. I have two children who have experienced 3 deployments of at least a year in length. I can say that I wish this book had been around for the first goodbye.

A Paper Hug follows a child as his father is called to deploy overseas. It covers emotions and issues that are likely to be experienced by both children and the parent left behind. This is important in preparing children during such a life changing event. In a military family, it is crucial to talk to children about deployments, and what to expect. This is not always an easy task! This book covers quite a bit!

The story starts with the father being notified he was being called to duty. Mom and son gather items for dad to take with him in order to remember them. This is a valid fear for children- daddy might forget me- so I truly liked this as a starter for the story. It also encourages children to get to know their dad or mom, so they can put together a care package full of things they might enjoy while deployed.

The child in the story experiences a time where he just cries about the situation, which is a normal response. In this time, he figures out he can make something very special for his dad- a paper hug. It details just how the paper hug was created with simple supplies that many young children can handle. (construction paper, yarn, tape, simple measurements..)It even includes a poem that your own child can use to enclose with their very own paper hug.

The family says their good bye to dad as he left, and then a letter arrives a few weeks later. I find that this section is very helpful for children when forming expecations. Many younger children think that letters will come quickly, or that when a letter comes it will be for them. From the book, "Three weeks went by before we got a letter from dad. It was a long one. He told us about what he was doing, what the food was like and mostly stuff for Mom- BUT there was a "p.s" just for me-'Thanks for the surprise box AND especially the hug!'" This is easy for a young child to understand, and shows them that it may take a while, and you may not get a letter for yourself, but dad IS thinking about you.

The book even goes into the late or early hour phone calls that dad might make, and how mom will do most of the talking, and many times the calls come when the children are in bed due to the time difference. Yet again, another expecation is discussed so children will not be overly dissapointed.

The story has the best ending of course, with dad returning home, and getting a real hug to replace the paper hug that kept him going for so long.

I have been asked to review many military related books- this one by far has been the most well done. The author and illustrator are a mother-daughter team who have sent family to Iraq, and lived through the experience with young children. The story is well written for a young child to read on their own or with a parent, and the drawings are done in such a fashion that a child can "get into." Not overly complicated, with bold and fun colors.

Overall I completely recommend this book to be a part of the library of any military family with young children. Having resources to prepare the parent are wonderful- but having a book just for kids written in the perspective of a child, in my opinion, is just as important.

~Sharon, [...]
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on October 22, 2006
Okay, I admit to being a softie at times, I even cried at the movies a couple of times in my life when no one was looking. "Paper Hugs", written by Stephanie Skolmoski and illustrated by her daughter Anneliese Bennion, is one of those simple children's books that might moisten up your vision a little; this is really a very charming and sweetly touching story book. It got to me. I image that it might do the same for members of most military families that read it to their children. It is a book that needed to be written and the message is as simple and pure as a child's love.

The story is about deployment and separation and how children miss their daddies. More importantly it is about how much daddies miss their families and children. It is a must buy for any military family who is dealing with deployment. The illustrations work well with the story line and together makes for a power little story for young children. I think this book could also start a trend of children making hand crafted "paper hugs" much like the "yellow-ribbons" got the public's attention.

Bravo to the author and illustrator. This book earns the MWSA's coveted FIVE TEDDY BEARS children's book rating!

Posted on The Military Writer's Society of America Book Reviews
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on August 19, 2006
This book is great for anyone who has had to say good bye. It is hopeful and creative. I loved the message from it and got some great ideas for my preschool class!
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on December 11, 2013
My son likes this book ok, but I think it might be for slightly older kids (my son is barely 3). We got one other deployment book called Hero Dad that was much better suited for my son and is extremely cute.
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on January 14, 2016
Upon receiving this and reading it to my daughter she wanted to make her Daddy a paper hug and a special box to take with him. My husband also made her a paper hug and she has been running around playing with it. Great buy. Would recommend.
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on December 3, 2009
I found this book a month after my husband left for Afghanistan and am so thankful I came across it. My 5-year-old was having a very difficult time emotionally after his daddy left, and this book really helped him express his feelings more openly.

The story details a reserve soldier who is activated and sent to war. His son talks about crying and feeling sad about his father's upcoming deployment, and decides to put a box together for his dad to take with him. He tries to think of the perfect things to put in the box, and finally comes up with the magnificent, yet simple "Paper Hug." The child traces his hands and writes a sweet note on them, asks his mom to measure his arm span, and uses that measurement to cut string to attach the two hand cut-outs. The hug is meant as a pick-me-up for his dad when he is feeling lonely.

After reading this story, my son decided to make a paper hug for his dad. We sent it and my normally far from sentimental husband did something that surprised me. He started taking the hug with him every time he left his base. He even sent us a picture of the hug hanging up in his truck. My son constantly brings up how proud he is of making that paper hug and how much daddy loves getting hugs from him even though he is far away.

As an aside, I must say I'm quite surprised by the comment about this book's supposed poor word choice. I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I respectfully disagree. I have no concerns with the use of the word "war" in this book. I know that if I don't give my child a little background on where his father is and what he is doing, someone else will, and they may be much more blunt about it than I am.
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on February 13, 2008
This is a very cute book and is hard for me to get through without crying. Especially since my husband is overseas. I just wish they made one for little girls. This is the second book I liked but its only about a little boy. I just change it to my daughters name. And she loves to read it everyday
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on November 26, 2012
Out of all the books I've gotten to help my son better understand and cope with his father's deployment, I didn't care too much for this one. I felt it ran on a lot, and was over the heads of most young children. It might be a good book for a somewhat older child, maybe 8 years old and up. I bought it for my 4 1/2 year old and it was way too slow and the art work was too abstract to hold his attention or help him understand anything about his father's deployment.
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on January 23, 2014
Wish every child of every soldier who ever deploys could have a copy of this book! It is the story of a child dealing with their parent leaving and them wanting to have their parent feel loved. Clever idea. We gave a copy of this book to children of recently deployed soldiers in their "Hero Packs."
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on August 12, 2011
This is a great book for anyone who has family that are in the military or a Mommy/Daddy who is deployed. Her dad is fighting in the war right now, and we decided to send this book to our little girl as one of her birthday presents. She just loved it and can relate to what the little boy in the book is going through. When she frist opened it she started to cry, because she said that she missed her daddy and this book made her think of him. Today after school were going to make daddy a paper hug.
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