How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine

by Amy Guglielmo (Author) Giselle Potter (Illustrator)

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Giselle Potter come together to tell the inspiring story of autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin and her brilliant invention: the hug machine.

As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn't like hugs. Temple wanted to be held--but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug?

Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn't receive a hug, she would make one...she would build a hug machine!

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3--Guglielmo and Tourville (Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair) team up again to present a picture book biography of noted out-of-the-box thinker, Temple Grandin. The authors focus on young Grandin's creativity and ingenuity and her sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, and touch--being hugged "felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world.." The narrative details how Grandin came to work on the cattle systems that would make her legendary, and what relief she found in the work. Potter skillfully depicts Grandin's experience using her familiar folk art style. She makes effective use of white space and spot illustrations to carry the story forward and depict Grandin's thoughts and feelings. In another spread, Potter suggests a connection between Grandin and her mother, even as Temple is shown hiding under a table and then running away from a hug: her plaid shirt matches the colors and lines on her mother's apron. An authors' note gives more detail about Grandin's life and work, but no sources are listed. Notably, the back matter is the only place in the book where autism is mentioned. VERDICT An inspiring look at the development of a scientist and advocate. Highly recommended for biography sections as well as for elementary STEAM curricula.--Jennifer Costa, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Guglielmo and Tourville gently present the story behind Grandin's "squeeze machine," describing Grandin's childhood love of building and design, as well as her sensitivities: "Temple did not like scratchy socks, whistling teakettles, bright lights, or smelly perfumes." Hugs, in particular, she found unbearable. But, the authors explain, Grandin discovered that external pressure placed on her body made her feel secure. As an adult, Grandin observed how cows are placed in squeeze chutes to calm them during veterinary exams; this led Grandin to design her own "hug machine." Potter's warm illustrations feature human and animal figures that are reminiscent of folk art dolls while showing Grandin's discomfort with outside stimulation. The authors avoid overt mention of autism in the story, but back matter elaborates on Grandin's life, career, and contributions to autism awareness. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A picture book explores Temple Grandin's first innovation, a personalized hug machine.... Guglielmo and Tourville present Grandin's story with respect and enthusiasm....lovely."— "Kirkus Reviews"
Amy Guglielmo
Amy Guglielmo is a prolific children's author, artist, art educator, and art activist. She has written a number of books about art for children, including What the Artist Saw: Vincent Van Gogh (2021), published by DK.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date
August 20, 2018

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