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:
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…
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…)