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Top 100 Picture Books #95: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

#95 The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (2007)
21 points

Sometimes also known as The Book We Cannot Keep In Stock.  How funny that this should be paired right next to Ira Sleeps Over on the list.  Apparently the mid-90s constitute the anxiety block on our poll’s list.  While Ira feared aspects of sleeping over, The Kissing Hand is most frequently cited as the book you use to send your child off to kindergarten.

The description from SLJ reads, “Chester Raccoon is going to school for the first time and he’s nervous. His mother reassures him, and places a kiss in the palm of his hand. Now it’s a ‘kissing hand.’ Whenever he’s lonely or afraid, he can place that hand on his cheek and feel his mother’s kiss. Chester gives his mother a kissing hand as well, and heads off to school.”

This title falls dangerously close to the realm of the sentimental picture book.  However, while books like Love You Forever and others that may or may not appear on this list are reviled long and loud, The Kissing Hand seems to raise no ire.  It simply fulfills its purpose in life and continues onward after that.  Not surprisingly, it’s a reading list staple for many. Equally unsurprising is the fact that the book has launched many a sequel.  These include (but are not limited to) A Pocket Full of Kisses, A Kiss Goodbye, Chester Raccoon and The Big Bad Bully, Chester’s Change of Heart, Chester the Brave, and Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories.

  • There is a Kissing Hand cookie recipe out there.  Though I suspect that if certain little boys got ahold of these cookies they would redub them something along the lines of “bloody hand cookies”, so consider it as a possible Halloween entertainment nosh as well.
  • Another recipe.  Less bloody.  Interesting because while I don’t think the creator meant them to, the hands look far more raccoony.
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I read Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully…words fail me. Let us just say that I weeded it stat. Ugh.

  2. As to the cookies, I’d have said stigmata — good for The Blessing of the Animals, or anyone studying Saint Francis of Assisi?

  3. At my first school the councilor used this for bibliotherapy. Somehow, when I opened a new school, I forgot to order it. HMMMMMM.

    rams – stigmata indeed. Hehehe.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Stigmata! Of course! So obvious I couldn’t even see it. Kicking myself now.

  4. Groan. This book is definitely in the too-sentimental category for me. (sigh)

  5. Jennifer in GA says

    Aww, I love this book. I read it on the first day of school to my preschool class every year and we do a little craft for mom to go along with it. It’s definitely sentimental, but I still like it.

  6. My son’s kindergarten teacher read this aloud on the first day of school, then shuffled all of us teary parents out the door. Unfair!