How to Build a Hug | Book Review

Book Review of How to Build a Hug – Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine
The Children’s Book Review

How to Build a Hug: Book Cover

Written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville

Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Ages 4-8 | 48 Pages

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | ISBN: 9781534410978

What to expect: Autism awareness, famous figures, engineering

A charming and beautifully illustrated story perfect for all children, HOW TO BUILD A HUG: TEMPLE GRANDIN AND HER AMAZING SQUEEZE MACHINE is a touching tribute to Temple Grandin and those who struggle with certain aspects of autism.

Temple Grandin was a special little girl. She loved many things: building lean-to’s, playing with her dog on obstacle courses, and folding paper airplanes. She also couldn’t stand many other things: loud noises, smelly perfumes, and too-bright lights. But what she couldn’t stand most was hugs.

It wasn’t that Temple didn’t want to be hugged. She saw how other children loved to be hugged, even her sister. How it made them feel calm when they were scared or showed how much they were loved. But for Temple, being hugged was like being shoved inside a giant scratchy sock, and she couldn’t stand it!

Temple was very bright, but at school, she had a hard time with the loud, noisy children, the bustle of the crowded classes, and the sounds of the cafeteria. Only the soothing swoosh of the swingset brought her relief, and she wondered if the soothing feel of the air on your cheek was what a hug was supposed to feel like.

How to Build a Hug Illustration

As Temple grew and attended a special private school, she learned that she liked building things and was very good with animals. She took care of the school horses and was a championship horse rider. And when she spent a summer on a farm and saw a cow being calmed down by a squeezing machine, she finally thought that maybe she had found her answer! In a rush, she created and built the first-ever hugging machine. Temple climbed inside her box and found that with a pull of a chord, she could be squeezed and calmed just like a hug was meant to be. It was bliss!

Temple Grandin is well-known for being an autism advocate, and this peek into her younger years, and her aversion to hugs is wonderfully done. We see the bright little girl struggling to enjoy something she knows others enjoy and how hard that is for her to live with. Stories like these help children understand how other children on the spectrum might think of touch and sound and could be comforting for children struggling to avoid touch – they are, after all, not alone.

Illustrator Giselle Potter keeps the illustrations bright and wistful, capturing Temple Grandin’s essence while making the scenery playful and engaging. Authors Guglielmo and Tourville have even included a biography of Dr. Temple Grandin at the back of the book.

Great for all classrooms and libraries, HOW TO BUILD A HUG is a wonderfully done book.

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Amy Guglielmo Author Headshot

About the Authors

Amy Guglielmo lives a life in pictures. In addition to writing about art, artists, and makers, she is a painter, teacher, and supporter of arts education for children of all ages. Amy once created a Barbie house equipped with a working elevator, and she is an A-plus hugger. She lives with her husband on the Adirondack Coast of Lake Champlain. You can visit Amy online at

Jacqueline Tourville

Jacqueline Tourville’s experience working with children with autism as a public school teacher opened her eyes to the importance of inclusive stories for kids. The author of Albie’s First Word: A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein’s Childhood and co-author with Amy Guglielmo of Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire, Jacqueline lives in Maine with her family. Ask her about the miniature log cabin she once built for her cat!

Giselle Potter Illustrator Headshot

About the Illustrator

Giselle Potter has illustrated many books, including Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne, an ALA-ALSC notable book; The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter, a Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner; and Cecil the Pet Glacier by Matthea Harvey. She is the author and illustrator of Tell Me What to Dream About and This Is My Dollhouse—both inspired by her daughters—and The Year I Didn’t Go to School, about traveling through Italy with her parents’ puppet troupe when she was eight. Giselle also illustrates “Ties,” a weekly column in the Well section of The New York Times. She lives in Rosendale, New York, with her husband and two daughters. Visit her online at 

How to Build a Hug, written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like How to Build a Hug by following our reviews and articles tagged with Autism Awareness, Famous People, and Engineering.

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August 5, 2021 at 01:20PM Denise Mealy