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Chester the Raccoon #1

The Kissing Hand

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School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary. Since its first publication in 1993, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic that has touched the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation, whether starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. It is widely used by kindergarten teachers on the first day of school. Stickers at the back will help children and their parents keep their Kissing Hand alive.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1993

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Audrey Penn

34 books103 followers

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5 stars
43,166 (62%)
4 stars
15,297 (22%)
3 stars
7,590 (11%)
2 stars
1,770 (2%)
1 star
784 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,001 reviews
Profile Image for Calista.
3,792 reviews31.2k followers
August 6, 2018
Sweet story about growing pains and missing those we love. Chester doesn't want to go to school, he will miss his mother. It's a great idea that the mother comes up with. She kisses his hand and tells him the kiss will stick all day. Wonderful idea. You carry the energy of that love with you all day and it's a reminder that we can all do that.

I remember school felt long as a child. It felt like it would never end. I think this would have been comforting if I had known about it. The kids here love their parents dearly and they are also extraverts. If they get to socialize, they don't look back. The nephew still liked this book and he had his mother kiss his hand because he liked it. He gave the book 5 stars. The niece said she read this when she was a kid, which she probably did.
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 7 books5,896 followers
March 29, 2009
This book was a special favorite of my daughter, Sarah. For several months, I read this to her almost every night, often kissing her hand to say goodnight. Even now, my eyes are misty thinking of those wonderful evenings and how tiny Sarah was.

The best books are those that have wonderful memories attached to them.
Profile Image for Tina.
2,306 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2021
This is a children's book. I love the message in this book, and this book shows the love that a mother as for their child. This is one of my twin boys favorite book, so I have read this book to him a lot. One of my boys told me there was a book they have to get at the book fair, and this was the book. I had to buy him and his teacher a copy of this book. I love this book a lot.
Profile Image for Duchess Nicole.
1,255 reviews1,506 followers
May 20, 2013
Beautiful story for preschoolers and young school age children. A wonderful sentiment set to ease a child's fear about being away from his/her parents and home. My girls are 7, 9, and 10, and they all loved it! Thanks for the rec, KatLynne!
August 6, 2018
The Kissing Hand” is another wonderful, well-known children's story I discovered. Audrey Penn was a ballerina, Olympic figure-skating choreographer, and theatre actress who needed a new creative outlet, when arthritis halted dancing and skating. Also in Maryland is Nancy Marie Morton Leaks, one of this book's artists. She has a husband, four children, and spiritual leanings. The second illustrator hails from England. A glance at any Ruth E. Harper profile shows she is hilarious! Even better, she tenderly holds one of her two kitties, a calico, in her portrait. They moved to Colorado. “The Kissing Hand” is the most famous work by all of them and I understand why. I enjoyed the drawings and words, to the tune of five stars.

A friend commented that the short length of this story is inclined to tiny children but that it has a sophistication that raises it to higher levels. She is right. The main reason I love it is because, due to being short, there is no space for inventing drama via some harrowing situation. I think we can teach good things and create good feelings, without characters getting into mishaps nor any unpleasantness; I truly do. Happy endings with minimal stress are for me.

Chester raccoon is unsure he will like animal night school, which is beginning in a nearby tree. His Mom kisses his hand and tells Chester that he can keep the love it generated permanently. That is it and it is beautiful. Delving deeper, the astuteness of differentiating nocturnal animals is clever and so are the illustrations. The moral is sound that things turn out all right, even if we are nervous about them. It is also a very profound concept, that love is a tangible energy to keep with us, even while a loved-one isn't present.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,734 reviews1,201 followers
March 9, 2010
This is a sweet story with gorgeous illustrations.

The premise is that the love between those we love and those who love us doesn’t go away even when we’re not in their presence.

This could be a helpful book for children starting school or going through any sort of separation from loved ones.

Unfortunately, the children who need it the most are unlikely to get much solace from this book and the children who already feel secure and loved will enjoy this, and it might be useful for them, but they don’t have as much need of this reassurance either. It is a touching story though and worth reading for the sentiment expressed.

It’s also worth reading for the beautiful illustrations. Chester Raccoon is so appealing that I’m a raccoon fan again.

Apparently it’s published with stickers in the back but I read a library copy and its stickers were missing. The foreword states this book is useful for children going through any kind of challenging separation and mentions children who are in foster care, residential care, experiences the death of a parent, and starting school or in the hospital. I’d say yes to the last two but most likely not to the first three, but it does depend on the child.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,143 reviews
February 26, 2010
A beautiful, touching story about how we always hold the love of those closest to us, even when we cannot see them. I adore the idea of the "kissing hand" and, though this book may have become a bit "commercialized" with the accompanying stickers, the heart of the tale is pure and one that I think many children (and adults) can relate to.
Profile Image for Mary Johnson.
14 reviews1 follower
October 5, 2012
This book has been a savior in my house. My 4 year son does not want to go to preschool, and this book has helped tremendously with tear free drop offs. Chester is a little raccoon that does not want to leave his mother to go to school. In a nutshell she kisses his hand and tells him she will be with him. And being the cry at anything mother I am, at the end of the book I was choking back tears as he tells her the same thing. My son's preschool teacher has made a stuffed Chester the class pet and does many activities with the raccoon and the book. Every morning we go through the Chester ritual and I thank this book and his teacher for helping us both cope!
Profile Image for Melki.
5,589 reviews2,310 followers
April 12, 2022
Chester is nervous about starting school, so his mother gives him a kiss on his little raccoony palm to remind him of her love, no matter what may happen during his night away from her. He is later inspired to return the favor.


Hopefully this sweet story, and its message of unconditional love, will provide comfort for anyone dealing with new and unfamiliar situations.
Profile Image for Sabeen.
50 reviews
June 28, 2014
This is such a cute book! i love the concept of how his mom will always be there with him if he misses her he can just put his palm on his cheek and he will feel better. The book also shows how children will mimic or model after the people around them like how chester gave his mom a kissing hand too. I wish my mother did something like this when i had anxieties of going to school. :)
Profile Image for Brittney Daniel.
44 reviews1 follower
June 19, 2014
This book can be used for many ways inside the classroom such as first day jitters, a new child and family joining the center or a child who is having a hard time coming back from vacation. They will know that their caregiver is always with them when they need it.
1,022 reviews116 followers
April 29, 2018
A very sweet children’s book. It tells the tale of a little critter who is scared and nervous about going to school for the first time. His mom allays his fears by telling him that she’ll always be with him if he’s scared, through the magic of the kissing hand.
Profile Image for Deb.
9 reviews4 followers
July 29, 2015
Back when I was five years old, I never wanted summer to end. I wish my grandma had read this book to me before she took me to school on my first day to make me feel better. My best friend’s mother recommended this book to me as one she used to read to her own children and the message within the storyline continues to resonate around her entire family.

Audrey Penn’s ‘The Kissing Hand’ deals with the issue of separation anxiety many children face when starting school as this is often the first and longest separation they have experienced from their parents or primary caregivers.

Chester Raccoon begs Mrs. Raccoon to let him stay at home and play. In an attempt to comfort him, Mrs. Raccoon assures Chester that although the idea of a new school may be scary, there will be plenty of new things he will love there once he settles in. She shares a family secret by kissing his hand and wrapping his fingers around it, explaining that every time he feels lonely or far away from home, he could hold his hand to his cheek, knowing that his mother’s love was with him wherever he went. Outside the school gates on the first day (or night, in this case) Chester returns the same gesture to his mother, showing her that the kissing hand works both ways, since sometimes even adults need the same reassurance.

Before publication in 1993, Audrey Penn had already read this story to many children in schools, libraries and children’s hospitals. By assigning animals the roles of the main characters, Penn is using anthropomorphism to personify the raccoon family with human characteristics, a strong literary device that particularly engages the attention of young children, but readers of any age could appreciate the central relationship in focus.

Mrs. Raccoon and the family unit could be substituted for any significant person in the reader’s life, relating back to educational theorists such as John Bowlby’s idea of a secure base that leads to independence and Mary Ainsworth’s attachment types. With this in mind, the story can be adapted into any situation or relationship as a coping strategy to deal with change. For example, a child entering foster care, dealing with a parent away serving in the military, a death in the family, moving away from friends and loved ones or a even adoption.

Vibrant watercolour illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak accentuate the story, depicting the traditional autumn back to school season and the raccoon’s nocturnal habitat. Based on Penn’s own observation of animal behaviour, this book can be used as a cross-curricular starting point to explore the natural habitats and behaviour of other nocturnal animals. In the classroom, children between the ages of four to six can interpret their own meaning from the story and paint their own handprints in art activities, or listen to the book as an aid in the transition period between the Early Years and Key Stage one.

They say never judge a book by it’s cover, but a great writer is able to appeal to many different audiences. Penn achieves this with her sensitive handling of a delicate subject that affects every young person at some stage, which explains the popularity of this New York Times #1 bestseller . Including the ASL sign for ‘I love you’ on the final page allows the universal moral of the story to be understood by everyone.
Profile Image for Pam Torres.
Author 4 books41 followers
May 5, 2011
I loved the Kissing Hand. The watercolor illustrations are incredible, just the right amount of detail and still maintain the free flowing beauty of the medium. The story, while simple has a definite story arc which keeps the pages turning. Children should adore this book, reminiscent of How Much Do You Love Me.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews174 followers
February 2, 2020
Chester Raccoon is reluctant to attend his first night of school in this sweet reassurance tale from storyteller Audrey Penn, first published by the Child & Family Press, an imprint on The Child Welfare League of America. His mother, understanding his fears, promises that he will love school, and shares a long-standing family secret with him: the Kissing Hand. Kissing his palm, she informs him that now he will carry the kiss with him, and will have it whenever he needs it. Buoyed up with this evidence of love, Chester returns the favor...

Recommended highly by a number of members in the Children's Books Group to which I belong, The Kissing Hand is one of those well-known books I have been aware of for some time, but never seem to have picked up. I'm glad that I finally have, as it is just a lovely little book, perfect for reassuring youngsters, when they approach a new, and potentially frightening experience, that they will always have their parents' love as a source of strength. The artwork, done by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak, is as appealing as the text. I now understand why so many parents, and other children's book-devotees, have recommended this one to me!
Profile Image for Melissa Mosloski.
58 reviews30 followers
September 6, 2013
My last baby recently started Kindergarten. I have been through this twice before with his older brothers, however being the last one, his starting Kindergarten had a profound effect on me.

I read The Kissing Hand to him the weekend before school started. He has been going to daycare since he was 6 weeks old, so I think that this book was more for me than it was for him. By now, he seems to have no problem leaving me for the day.

The story is about a little raccoon that is going off to school but doesn't want to and how his mother shares a secret with him that will help him through the day each time he is missing her.

When the book was done and my son ran off to go play, I was left sitting there with huge crocodile tears in my eyes. I'm not sure how much the book did for helping my son through the day, but I can tell you that I am pressing my palm to my cheek right now and feeling just a little bit better.

I would recommend this book to anyone with children. Whether you have already sent them off to school or not. I wouldn't even consider it a requirement to read it to them however I also recommend you have some tissues handy.
Profile Image for Alice.
4,195 reviews34 followers
December 9, 2014
4.25 Stars Wow, I had to look up what "Mawkish" meant because it was used in a review on this book on Goodreads. It means "sentimental in a feeble or sickly way." and "saccharine" (like fake sugar) which mean "excessively sweet or sentimental.

Well I disagree. Isn't it nice that we can all have our opinions.

I almost, yes ALMOST gave this a 5 star. I know...be still my beating heart, but I going with a solid 4 1/4 stars.

The artwork IS ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. This is my type of illustrations to a T!! The story was sweet without it being sappy, sorry, I have read 'saccharine' books and I just didn't get that from this book. I got warm, affectionate, a warm blanket on a cold raining day type of vibe!

Also, I loved that is was true to the nocturnal nature of Raccoon's. All of a sudden it is night and they are going to school which confused me for a quarter of a millisecond. OF COURSE Raccoon's will go to school at night. I like the personification of the Raccoon, is could be allegorical to a human mother and child without it being in your face. I liked it, and even after reading others reviews I am still sticking with my review!
30 reviews
August 13, 2016
This is an anthropomorphic picture book. This book is about a raccoon that is going to school for the first time. His mother tells him of a secret called the kissing hand. His mother kisses his palm, then she closes his hand and he takes her love to school with him.

This filled with beautiful illustrations. The pictures do a great job of setting the environment because the one big difference in raccoons going to school is that they are nocturnal so they go to school at night.

I love this book on the first day of school for very young children. They are more than likely feeling anxiety about being at school all day without their parents near them. This first day is a huge emotional step for them. This book captures the idea that others are anxious too, but shows a caring and touching way to tell the children that you will always have your parents’ love even when you are away. It also illustrates the concept of nocturnal animals and how different it would look if we were awake going to school at night. This would be a great integration with science. I would recommend this book for grades K-1.
Profile Image for Malbadeen.
613 reviews7 followers
September 14, 2010
Typically I shy away from these syrupy kind of books but I have to admit I like this one.

I detest the thought of sending my kids off to be in the hands of someone that might possibly think that they are anything less than brilliant, wildly creative, hilarious and compassionate. And I really detest the thought of them having any moments of missing home or me.

When I see kids at the school I work at cry, I ache with wondering how my own kids are doing at their school and these silly little rituals (such as the one in the Kissing Hand) actually come to mind and kind of sort of comfort me as I conjure up pictures of my sweet little daughter abiding by them with fierce loyalty.
46 reviews
June 19, 2014
This book is a great way to support B-5 students who are new to the classroom. The Kissing Hand allows students to feel comfortable leaving their parents knowing they'll have their love to comfort them. I could incorporate this book on the first day of school and reapply this gesture throughout the school year. This not only helps the students, but the parents can also benefit from the kissing hand knowing their child's love can make them warm inside.
20 reviews3 followers
June 19, 2013
Separation anxiety is something nearly all children will experience to some extent when starting school, daycare, or even going to their first sleep over. That's where this book comes into play. I like this book because it is a simple, yet efficient way to help young children with this problem. The kissing hand is an easily relatable and also easy to imitate book. I can easily see teachers using this book on the first day of school to make students feel more comfortable in their new environment. I think that this book could also be used in the classroom with the arrival of a new student. The books illustrations add to the story. They may not be the brightest pictures, but they are most definitely detailed, and very full of life. This book sparks traditions, is helpful, and can be used at different times in a classroom. I think that this book is very heart-warming, and would keep the interest of children while it was being read to them, or when being read aloud.

Materials Needed
*Heart Die cuts with the letters of the alphabet
*Hand die cuts with pictures of things that start with each letter of the alphabet.

1. The teacher will lay out the hand and heart die cuts and ask the children to match each die cut to the picture that the letter starts with. (Ex: The letter R will be matched with Raccoon.)
2. The teacher will encourage the children to say the name of each letter.
3. After all the letters have been matched to their sounds the game is over and each and should have a heart on it.
45 reviews
October 27, 2014
After reading this book the first thing I thought about was my mom. I real to this book because my mom is all the way in Guam while I'm here going to college. I think this story is awesome for kids who have trouble separating from their parents. It taught me that even though I'm far away from my parents, they're still with me in my heart. Although this is a fantasy book, it reminds children that it's okay to be scared or nervous to start something new in their life.

In the paratext of the story basically tells you what the book's theme is about. It reassures people that everyone needs to be loved no matter what the situation might be. Beside the main characters being animals, I loved how the illustrations were so vibrant in color. The illustrator picked colors that blended well and that were also real life-like. I also thought it was cool how the cover of the book was an actual page inside the book. At the end of the story, it shows the sign language sign of "I love you".
40 reviews
April 15, 2012
I just read this book for the first time. It touched my heart and I thought it was such a heartfelt children's story. Chester is scared to leave his mother and attend school. So I would use this book in the begining of the school year when some of you class is having a hard time leaving their family. Its a great way to share a bond with your class, while showing them that other feel the way you can. Using animals instead of humans catches the children's attention, while still letting them relate to Chester.

During circle time, ask the children if they have have had a time where they were scared to leave their family. Let them have a chance to discuss, along with asking them what did they do for comfort. Like stated above I feel this book would be great when starting a new year.
49 reviews1 follower
July 3, 2014
This book is very sweet. I would tell my parents to read this book to their children before school starts. This book shows how brave the mother is when her child goes off to school as well as her child being brave when he goes off to school. Maybe the parents could give their child a kiss jn their hands and that could be a way to cope for the first day of school.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
2,115 reviews85 followers
October 5, 2017
I was never that impressed by this book before I became a parent. I find the illustrations and the story a little saccharine. However, my toddler has been experiencing some major separation anxiety lately, and this book really comes into its own in that regard! It's lovely for big or small separations and for easing those transitions.

Notes on representation: The characters are all animals.
Profile Image for Mommywest.
385 reviews9 followers
January 31, 2014
What a sweet story! As little Raccoon gets ready to go to school for the first time, he is worried about missing his mother and all the familiar things he loves. But his mother shows him that he can embrace new experiences and still have her love with him the whole time.
Profile Image for Asalyn Holliday.
53 reviews3 followers
July 10, 2014
I think this book would be great to read on the first day of school for children who are having trouble being away from their parents. It reminds me of a student I had who always cried when his mom dropped him off and took awhile to warm up. I think that this book would have been helpful for him.
Profile Image for Rashanda Ravenel.
47 reviews2 followers
June 30, 2014
I really enjoyed that this book incorporated night creatures/nocturnal life. The moon was very bright and beautiful, shining its light on the owl, raccoon and other night creatures. This story would be great for making children feel better about leaving loved ones to go to school.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,001 reviews

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