In this warm, straightforward story by Joyce Durham Barrett, with naturalistic illustrations by Pat Cummings, Willie has been embarrassed out of hugging his parents and sister by his best friend at school, who says hugging is silly. Willie, who's about 10, longs for a reassuring cuddle every once in a while but doesn't want to admit it.
Barrett is an elementary school teacher and free-lance writer who has never published a children's book before. She gets a little carried away—Willie becomes so desperate he starts hugging stop signs—but she seems to know the value of having a few affectionate arms to come home to, perhaps because she grew up in a Homer, Ga., family of 11 children. (Harper & Row, $12.95)