Chester Raccoon is going to his friend Pepper Opossum’s house for a sleepover, “his first whole day away from home”. Chester, Pepper, and several other animal friends, including Sassafras Skunk, play together, learn to get along, and eventually, when they are “all tuckered out”, they curl up in the opossum’s hollow to go to sleep.
This picture book is the tenth in Ms. Penn’s Kissing Hand series. Chester takes his kissing hand, the one that Mother Raccoon kissed right in the middle of the palm, with him to Pepper Opossum’s house, and it is a comfort when the friends go to bed. But Chester still misses his own bed in his own home.
Preschoolers who are just getting to the age where they might spend the night away from home could appreciate this gentle, somewhat humorous, story of a “dayover” that ends with a comforting trip home for Chester. During the day, the animal children play and work out their minor differences, and they are very tolerant of Skunk’s “stinky puffs” that seem to overtake him at several inopportune moments during the day. I enjoyed both the story and the illustrations, and I think preschool children would like it even more than I did.
It turns out the the original book in this series, The Kissing Hand, made School Library Journal’s Betsy Bird’s Top 100 Picture Books list a few years ago, coming in at #95. I’ve never read The Kissing Hand, about Chester’s first day of school, but Ms. Bird says, “This title falls dangerously close to the realm of the sentimental picture book.” However, she also opines, “The Kissing Hand seems to raise no ire. It simply fulfills its purpose in life and continues onward after that.” So, yes, the tenth book in the series is a bit on the precious side, but maybe it, too, fulfills its purpose.