Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us by Lauren Castillo

Hi, Lauren Castillo! A copy of Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story Of Us was waiting for me when I returned home from the Netherlands a few weeks ago. I started reading it right away. I love, love, love, love, love Hedgehog, Mutty, Mole, Owl, Beaver, Hen, the Chicks, and Annika Mae. I cannot wait to encourage every second-grade teacher to read it aloud. It is a perfect read-aloud. If I recall correctly, Hedgehog revealed herself to you in your sketchbook around 2014.

Lauren Castillo: Hi, John Schu! Thank you so much for sharing the cover of Our Friend Hedgehog today. You are correct, Hedgehog first appeared in my sketchbook all the way back in February 2014. Little did I know back then that she would eventually star in a chapter book! She has come a long way :)

I am so happy she stayed with you. She needed you to tell her story.  

Scenario: A bookseller at The Midtown Scholar Bookstore, your local independent bookshop in Harrisburg, asks you to fill out a shelftalker about Our Friend Hedgehog. There is enough space for 240 characters.

Lauren Castillo: A dark and stormy night...A lost best friend...and a mystery to solve. When Hedgehog is left alone on her little island she must find the courage to venture out on her own. A whimsical story of bravery and friendship.


Please tell us about the pens, pencils, and paints you used to create the illustrations for Our Friend Hedgehog. 

Lauren Castillo: The art was drawn on Strathmore bristol paper with Tombow pens and then colored with Derwent watercolor pencils. And for the Polaroid chapter openers, I made the art with graphite pencil and colored them digitally with added filters to resemble actual Polaroid photos. 

I adore how each chapter opens with a silhouette of a character or an object relevant to the story. Did you order/create custom-made rubber stamps of each character?

Lauren Castillo: Thank you! I’m so glad you like these. Yes, I designed the rubber stamps to use for the chapter headers. I love stamps so much, and these little details were one of my favorite parts of the making of the book.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Katherine Harrison and Martha Rago are my incredible editor and art director at Knopf BFYR, and I was so grateful to work with them on Our Friend Hedgehog. This was my very first time writing a chapter book, after over a decade of writing and illustrating picture books, and boy was it a challenge to switch formats. I could never have made this book without Katherine and Martha by my side. 

On May 5, 2020, Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us will be available wherever books are sold! You’ll probably find me celebrating at the Midtown Scholar bookstore. I cannot wait to share this new book with kids.. and whoever else will listen :)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me... are you ever going to get a pet hedgehog? I WISH! But sadly I live in one of the few states where hedgehogs are illegal to own as pets. Can you believe it?! Instead I’ll just have to live vicariously through some friends who DO have pet hedgehogs (I’m looking at you, Pernille Ripp and family!)

Look for Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us on May 5, 2020. 

Random House's Description: 

From a Caldecott Honor-winning artist comes a cozy classic-in-the-making about finding your friends and sticking together through thick and thin. The perfect read-aloud for fans of Mercy Watson or Winnie-the-Pooh.

Sometimes you make a friend,
and it feels like you have known that friend your entire life. . . .

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.

The first book in a new series from Caldecott Honor winner Lauren Castillo, Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us has the feel of a timeless classic, introducing an unforgettable cast of characters who will star in many more adventures to come.


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