The Story of Us (Our Friend Hedgehog #1)

by Lauren Castillo (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Hedgehog lives on a teeny-tiny island with only her stuffed dog, Mutty, for company. When a great storm carries Mutty away, she embarks on a quest to find her friend. Following the trail of clues Mutty left behind, brave Hedgehog meets a wiggly Mole, a wordy Owl, a curmudgeonly Beaver, a scatterbrained Hen and Chicks, and a girl who's new to the neighborhood, Annika May.

With bravery and teamwork, there's nothing that can stop these seven from finding Mutty, but along the way they discover something even more important: each other. 

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Starred Review

Simple sentences and abundant white space support young readers making the transition into chapter books, and the gentle adventure within this series starter will easily capture their attention.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

An outstanding new chapter book with the cozy feel of a classic.

Publishers Weekly

An array of woodland characters pay kindness forward in this character-driven series opener from Castillo (Imagine). Hedgehog is largely content with her island life alongside best friend Mutty, a stuffed dog, but when a storm separates them, she gathers her courage and sets off to find him. Falling into an underground abode damaged by the recent storm, Hedgehog is befriended by empathic Mole, whose home she helps to repair. In turn, a thankful Mole assists Hedgehog with her search, and the two meet multiple friends along the way, Mole greeting each animal in a different language ("Guten Tag, Owl!"; "Salaam, Hen"). The characters recall those of Milne's Hundred Acre Wood: Word-loving Owl lists definitions, headstrong Beaver is preoccupied with his home of sticks, adventurous Hen and her two playful chicks engage in familial bustle, and narrator Annika Mae Flores, a brown-skinned child who is new to the area, binds them all together following a waterlogged adventure. Inviting mixed-media illustrations evoke a timeless sensibility, rich with foliage and burgeoning friendship. And Castillo's friendly message about community, courage, and new beginnings should be a hit among early readers. Ages 5-9. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary. (May)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Hedgehog and Mutty live on a river island and spend their days playing, imagining, and dreaming. One day, a storm carries Mutty away, and Hedgehog sets out to rescue her friend. Along the way, Hedgehog meets companions throughout the forest who help rescue Mutty and become a new group of friends. This gentle early chapter book is sure to delight young fans of animal friendship stories. Full-color illustrations make the title inviting to readers just breaking into the longer format, and plenty of white space and larger text is also welcoming. Some of the word choices may be difficult for striving readers. However, repetition and the use of definitions in context, especially by the owl, will help expand vocabularies. The bright, detailed illustrations work well to enhance the plot and bring the characters to life. The final chapter, "Us (the beginning)," promises more adventures from this spirited crew. VERDICT This sweet adventure and cast of new friends is reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh or a calmer Mercy Watson. A suggested purchase for all fiction collections that serve early chapter book readers.—Ellen Conlin, Naperville Public Library, IL

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A sweet book, and the illustrations are charming."
—The Wall Street Journal

"Hugely appealing... promises adventure, lovable characters and sweet messages about helpfulness and tolerance."
—Shelf Awareness, starred review" 

"A gentle book about the gifts new friends bring into our lives."
—BookPage, starred review 

"Our Friend Hedgehog feels like a modern-day Winnie the Pooh It's so warm and full of joy and love. It's got classic written all over it."
—Victoria Jamieson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Roller Girl

What a sweet, lovely, comforting book, with a timeless world and cast of characters. Like any true friend, Hedgehog feels as if she has been here all along.
—Laurel Snyder, National Book Award Nominee for Orphan Island

"Gracefully interweaving pictures and words, Castillo transports young readers into the natural world where they meet beloved Hedgehog and her friends. Gentle and full of heart."
—Abby Hanlon, author of Dory Fantasmagory

"This story feels like a book-shaped hug—it's a gentle, lovely tale about the magical first friendship that makes us feel treasured and courageous. You'll want to read it aloud to a person (or pet) you love."
—Natalie Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic
Lauren Castillo
Lauren Castillo is the illustrator of several well-loved and well-received pictures books. This is the third book she has both written and illustrated. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and you can also find her at and follow her on Twitter: @studiocastillo.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date
May 20, 2020
Our Friend Hedgehog
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV002000 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | General
Library of Congress categories
Best friends
Texas Bluebonnet Awards Master List
2021 - 2022

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