Our Friend Hedgehog; The Story of Us

by | Dec 16, 2022

“Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us” is a book that has the feel of a classic. The reading level is on the young side of middle grade, so for those readers who devour chapter books, this would be a perfect next step.

“Hedgehog” is an origin story, a story that explains how a group of friends, who feel like they’ve been together forever, first met. Their habitat feels quite similar to books like “Wind in the Willows,” and “Winnie the Pooh”… perhaps their forests are connected to one another.

This story begins with Hedgehog and Mutty, and expands to include Mole, Owl, Beaver, Hen and her two chicks, and Annika Mae, who just moved into a house on the hill and is lonely for her old home.

What makes a friend? It’s not just proximity – I have many neighbors I am not friends with – but it is a shared activity, often, as Hedgehog shows us, an activity that helps another.

In this book Mole helps Hedgehog, Hedgehog helps Mole, Owl helps Hedgehog, Beaver helps Mole, Owl and Hedgehog, Hen and chicks help Hedgehog and then Hedgehog helps Annika Mae. Lots of helping going on!

Another thing that makes for fast friendships are shared adventures. I know all my neighbors but I would only describe a few of them as close friends because we have sailed together or done yard projects together.

That’s the recipe for friendship! It’s no more complicated than the horchata, Mole’s “favorite milky drink,” that she serves Hedgehog to cheer Hedgehog up, another thing a friend would do.

Speaking of things that will be new to the reader, like the word “horchata,” Castillo does an adorable job of introducing new words in a playful way. Characters literally define words like  “peril,” “preening” and “photograph.” The author does this by making it a personality trait of Owl’s, which helps the reader know him as a character as well. Very cute!

One example goes like this:  “We are not playing hide and seek,” Mole tells Owl. “We are talking of a friend in peril.”

“Hmm, peril?” Owl pondered. “You mean very serious and immediate danger.” Well, I do happen to have fast wings and excellent eyesight. Maybe I can help!”

Mole also uses a greeting from a different language every chance she gets and not just the usual Romance languages, like French, Spanish and German, but also Arabic and (this one I had to look up) Korean.

The story is sweet, it has enough action to engage young readers, and when they are finished they will hope and wish for more stories of Hedgehog, Mole, Owl, Beaver, Hen and Chicks and Annika Mae.

And, happily, there IS another story! “Our Friend Hedgehog: A Place to Call Home” also came out this year, so as soon as your young reader has finished “The Story of Us,” they can check out “A Place to Call Home.”

Alexandra the Great book cover

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