Tag Archives: Hugless Douglas

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep by David Melling

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep is published on April 5th but due to a (since corrected) early release at Red House I got my copy yesterday. Woohoo! The best place to buy this book would be your local independent bookstore of course but I’m afraid “early release” and “half price” got me (the next copy I get will be from my local bookstore, and there will be a next copy, I have a habit of giving David Melling books as presents to every child we know…)

This is the third in the Hugless Douglas series, the first two I partially reviewed here: Vote Douglas! (Or not…) I think it might just be my favourite of the three.

To recap: In Hugless Douglas (Hodder 2010), Douglas wakes from a long sleep and tries to find a hug that suits him, looking for big tall and comfy hugs in all the wrong places until Rabbit takes him to the best hug of all. In Don’t Worry [Hugless] Douglas (Hodder 2011) Douglas gets a new hat from his dad but in his excitement the hat gets ruined. He looks for advice about what to tell his dad, before finding out that telling the truth is the best option.

In Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep, Douglas is heading for a sleepover with Rabbit: “There’s plenty of room at Rabbit’s.” But not before choosing what to take with him, getting lost, picking up some friends along the way and ending sleeping not quite where originally planned…

The three Hugless Douglas books are wonderful. They’re not my favourite David Melling creations (shhh, don’t tell anyone) but that’s not saying much because frankly they’re all my favourites. For some inexplicable reason my daughters pronounce Hugless Douglas as “hug-a-lus dug-a-lus”, which of course I find utterly adorable!

It’s the attention to detail that make me love these books so much. This may be why I like Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep so much, because it brings themes from the original Hugless Douglas book: the honeybee pyjamas, the bush with eyes, the owl saying “Twooooo Twit!”. I also love how the sky subtly darkens throughout the book with a sunset sky before night falls – something that you can even see in the storyboard:

Kind permission given by David Melling to use storyboard sketch

This double spread also has that Winnie-the-Pooh trapped in Rabbit’s house feel, except in this case Rabbit is very happy for Douglas to visit and the problem is getting into her house, not out of it.

Mighty-Girl and Destructo-Girl both love Hugless Douglas, and the Douglas books are suitable for a wide age range. MG (just 5) gets a lot more of the humour (pointing out the sheep stuck on Douglas’ back for instance). DG (almost 3) loves the stories. I drool over the details! As I write this, MG has stolen Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep from me and is copying the words from the book while attempting to read as many as she can. Earlier she was using the pictures to read the story to her little sister.

The attention to detail really is just fantastic: there are always ten sheep (even when they’re just eyes in a bush), Douglas’ storybook front and back cover is an exact match to the first Hugless Douglas book, one of the sheep is pulling the pyjamas out of the bag before Douglas is shown wearing them (though how he gets them on must be a book in itself!)

The final double page spread of “things to take on a sleepover” is packed with humour (especially the cuddly toy), but I think my favourite has to be: a friend. Hugless Douglas can be every child’s friend so off you go now, grab yourself a copy and enjoy. And don’t forget to read it to your children once you’ve enjoyed it…

Don't forget to pack a friend...

You can read more about Hugless Douglas (and other things) on David Melling’s blog plus there’s a fantastic interview about the Hugless Douglas iPhone app (and other things) over at The App Puppy (wish I had an iPhone but shall just have to campaign for an Android version…)

Vote Douglas! (Or not…)

It’s the final week of voting for the Red House Children’s Book Awards and one of my favourite author/illustrators, David Melling, is up for the younger children’s award. What sort of a rabid fan would I be without trying to influence your (child’s) vote? 😆

Don’t Worry Douglas (Hodder, 2011) is a gentle tale of the very huggable bear who makes a mistake and is scared to tell his dad. Of course it all ends well when he does tell the truth. A lovely story to read to young children to show that parents understand accidents and will love them just the same. This is a sequel to Hugless Douglas (2010); there’s a third in the series out this year (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep); and Mr Melling is working on a fourth one – hurray! 🙂

I have a soft spot for Douglas for several reasons:

1) My father-in-law and my youngest nephew both have Douglas as one of their first names!

2) There is a double page spread at the end of each of these books of ‘hugs’ and ‘hats’ which is like seeing into an artist’s ideas book.

3) I took Mighty Girl to a ‘How to Draw a Hug’ event at Mostly Books bookshop in 2010 and I was so proud of how my only-just-three year old concentrated so hard and really enjoyed the drawing tutorial (and I was star-struck and didn’t say much but all (two of, outside Twitter) the children’s writers and illustrators I’ve met have been lovely and very approachable, they’re a fantastic bunch!)

4) Who couldn’t love this bear:
(Picture credit: Mostly Books)

I haven’t read any of the other books in the Younger Children shortlist but Mick Inkpen is always worth a look; we’ve enjoyed One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell and like his art; and I really love the front cover of Peely Wally and definitely want to read it to my girls at some point. You can vote for your favourite at the Red House Children’s Book Award website. Last day to vote is Friday 20th January.
There are also Younger Readers and Older Readers categories but they’re not applicable to my daughters yet and we’ve not read any of the entries so I’ll not be writing about them but if you have the right aged children, they might like to vote on their favourite.