Tag Archives: Hugless Douglas Week

Hugless Douglas Week: Six Questions with David Melling

For the final day of Hugless Douglas Week, David Melling kindly volunteered to be the first interviewee in an ocassional series where I ask Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? to authors and illustrators of children’s books.

David Melling drawingDavid Melling – author and illustrator of children’s books.

My influences, and there are way too many to list here, include the usual suspects: Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman, Quentin Blake, Maurice Sendak. I won’t keep listing names but I will say particular influences that still inspire me are Asterix and Obelix, Tom and Jerry, Laurel and Hardy…I could go on but think I’ll stop there. Oh, and my kids of course!

SketchingThe book I’d love to write and illustrate is a collection of silly Fairy Tales. I’ve lost track of the number of times a project like this has been close to becoming reality but something always seems to get in the way. But it’s still on my ‘to-do’ list. Perhaps one day.

At the moment I about to start work on the 5th Hugless Douglas book! It hasn’t got a title yet but it’s his birthday. Today, 1st October, is literally Day 1 on this title so I haven’t got much more to say right now. First things first – this Q&A!

My favourite ice cream is vanilla. I know, wild eh?

Sketchbook PagesI’ve always loved reading and drawing and studied art and photography at college. Then, from around the age of 21, for about ten years of concentrated effort and various jobs, I finally realised that what I was really looking for was to illustrate stories! The writing came later but it completed the journey. I’m very fortunate to be able to make up stories and draw pictures all day. Very fortunate!

I create for children simply because most stories that require illustrations are for children. Also, my sense if humour hasn’t really grown up (thank goodness).

Why do children ask so many questions? I guess because they are curious about the world they find themselves in! I remember that phase with my children. That particular phase when everything you say is met by that question ‘Why.” I hope my books, the stories and pictures, fuel that interest. After all, it’s a funny old world, it takes some time getting used to all its little foibles. All children are doing is trying to make sense of it. Then again, aren’t we all!

Presently living in Abingdon, Oxfordshire but grew up in London.

Favourite place to be is either at home with the family or at my studio. I’m afraid I’m irritatingly content!

Illustration from Brilliant the DinosaurThe first published book I illustrated was called Brilliant The Dinosaur by Richard Stilgoe in 1993. Some of you older readers might remember he used to be on TV. He wore quirky knitted jumpers while playing the piano on the news programme Nationwide in the 1970-80’s. Sadly, we never met!

The first book I wrote and illustrated was the picture book The Kiss That Missed in 2002. It’s celebrating 10 years this year!

My favourite period in history? Hmm, I’m not sure I have a favourite but I do like Medieval times…it appeals to my gothic side.

When does the post arrive? Ha! An excellent question! Don’t get me started…

Print from The Kiss That Missed, can be ordered from http://davidmelling.co.uk/shop.htmlI started creating books soon after spending about 4 years working in a series of London based animation studios. It was way back in the 1980’s and I just loved the way the drawings helped to tell the story, not always with words – Tom and Jerry is a supreme example. It taught me that pictures are just as important as the words to carry a story, sometimes more so. By the time I decided to leave the studios I had bug and knew that story telling with pictures was exactly what I wanted to do.

A picture book can take anything from 3 to 6 months for me. If I break that down it’ll look something like this:
Sketchbook ideas (including written notes), on a particular subject: 2-3 weeks.
Storyboard and first written draft – 2 – 3 weeks.
Pencil roughs on cartridge paper – 4 weeks.
Trace and ink onto watercolour paper – 2 weeks
Painting final artwork – 6 – 8 weeks.

Obviously, this will vary depending on the type of book and whether I come to the drawing board with a vague idea or a very particular idea. It’s not an exact science. You’ll notice that I write and draw and the same time when getting the ideas. For me both disciplines feed off watch other. I know that some author illustrators write first then illustrate. I couldn’t do that. But, of course, everyone is different. It’s whatever works for you!

How long is a piece of string? Well, that’s an easy one; That long.


All images © David Melling, used with permission.
The sample Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? questions can be downloaded here.

Thank-you for sticking with me throughout Hugless Douglas Week. Don’t forget there’s still time to enter the giveaway: deadline extended to Tuesday 9th October. Extra goodies added, and books will be signed (there will some delay in posting while we work out logistics!)

I’d like to offer huge thank-you hugs to Hachette Children’s Books for sending extra prizes and the activity book download to support this week; Helen from CApptivated Kids for the guest post; and most of all to Douglas’ Dad, David Melling, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Hugless Douglas Week: Hugless Douglas App

I’m delighted to have Helen from CApptivated Kids guest post here at Child-Led Chaos today, reviewing the Hugless Douglas iPhone/iPad app. Helen’s blog is full of reviews of apps for small children, and gives me the only positive reason for having an iPad I can think of! A huge thank-you hug to Helen for the review.

Hugless Douglas App Screen Capture

“One spring morning, a big yaaawwwwn came from the back of a deep dark cave.
… I need a hug,” said Douglas.”

And off he goes in search of the perfect hug in this interactive version of the picture book Hugless Douglas by David Melling. My children (aged nearly 5 and not-quite 3) already enjoy the Douglas books, and so we were really pleased to find him in the App Store.

One by one, Douglas carefully considers all the things that make his best hugs so good; they are big, tall, and comfy… but individually, nothing he finds is quite right. Then a rabbit points him in the direction of someone who can combine all these things into one wonderfully huggable package – his mum.

There are some lovely touches which show off the humour and warmth of Douglas’ world. For example, the very charismatic sheep that he scoops up in his arms (surely a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actors) are even more fun when a soundtrack of “baaas” is added. Douglas blowing his nose on the rabbit’s tail got extra giggles from my children, as did his attempt to climb a tree.

It’s nice to see Alan Davies narrate the story. His narration is warm and inviting, while the music by Simon Wallace is reminiscent of a lovely old-fashioned children’s TV series.

There are two extras included – a noughts and crosses game and a hug gallery. The gallery is a very nice feature, as you can email different hug illustrations to your friends and family. I’m sure grandparents would love receiving a Good Night Hug, Cosy Hug or Tummy Hug.

While we really enjoyed using this app, there are some things which we would love to see in any future updates. It would be good if the “Read to Me” option were not just a video of the book, but allowed for the page turns and interactivity currently only available in “Read by Myself”. Secondly, although keywords appear when you touch the illustrations (e.g. Douglas, bed, scarf), this is not consistently applied across the pages. And while the interactive elements definitely add something special to the story, I would have loved to see the app exploit the full possibilities of the iPad a bit more.

Overall, this app is a good value, straight forward version of the picture book, which delivers a warm and cosy hug for Douglas fans.

Hugless Douglas by David Melling, developed by Hachette, compatible with iPhone and iPad. Available from http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hugless-douglas-interactive/id440678822?mt=8 priced at £1.99 at time of writing.

Hugless Douglas Week: Downloads

Fortunately for Hugless Douglas fans, there are lots of freebies available online from colouring in sheets to teaching guides.

David Melling’s own website and blog (plus facebook and twitter) are a wealth of sneak peaks of upcoming work, videos and sketches:
Buy a signed print from Hugless Douglas
Keep an eye on upcoming events
Sneaky peek of upcoming Hugless Douglas project
Sneaky peek of We Love You Hugless Douglas
Behind the Scenes painting Hugless Douglas
Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep storyboard
World Book Day 2012 with link to video of event including sketching Douglas live
There are also free downloads and resources for various books, including this Hugless Douglas Mother’s Day card to make:

From my very favourite and most wonderful local independent bookstore: Mostly Books, Abingdon
David Melling LIVE! – a page full of info plus two must-watch videos
Five Questions with David Melling – interview with Douglas’ “dad”
I Need a Hug! – event to celebrate the launch of first Hugless Douglas book (featuring the back of three year old MG’s head, and her picture of Douglas)

Activity Booklet

Hachette Children’s Books have very kindly given me permission to upload the activity booklet that is available in printed form at Hugless Douglas events. This is a 12-page PDF with dot-to-dot, maze, spot-the-difference, mobile to make and my favourite of all: how to draw Douglas. Download link here.

Hachette Children’s Colouring Sheets

The five PDF files shown above (colouring pages, Father’s Day card and sketches activity) can be downloaded from here. The Father’s Day Card and Love sheets are unique to this site.


In addition, the Tree Hug colouring sheet (shown above with full Mum Hug sheet) are included in the zip file of booklets that can be downloaded here (if the direct link doesn’t work, try this page and click ‘Colouring in templates’ link). This file includes the Sketches Activity and Boulder & Mum Hugs colouring from the website above.

Boulder, Tree and Mum Hug can also be downloaded from Scholastic.

Teaching Guides
There are a host of resources for teaching using Hugless Douglas, I wrote about related activities yesterday and here are some more teaching guides and activity ideas:
Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award activity sheet (PDF)
Tiger Tales teaching and reading guide (PDF)
Teaching Library teaching ideas (webpage)
ESL Printables reading worksheet (you need to be a member and make an upload to download this sheet but a full preview is available if you register for free)

Hugless Douglas Week: Activity Ideas

“Hugless Douglas Activities” is one of the biggest search terms to this blog, therefore I’ve been thinking about what to do for this post for a while. After several hours of often fruitless google searches, I eventually remembered Pinterest and added a whole host of eclectic ideas onto an HD springboard board 😉 A selection are included below with suggested themes.

I have included a linky at the bottom of this post for you to add any related activity posts, and please do comment to suggest themes you think should be added too.

Theme: Bears

Circles Bear from First PaletteCircles Bear

A wonderfully simple craft that even very small children could manage (with help cutting out the circles) and added learning in the form of big/small and shapes.

Hugless Douglas arms from DomesticaliHugless Douglas Arms

No tutorial here, but I had to link to these fantastic bear arms made specifically for Hugless Douglas. Very crafty parents may be able to rustle up something similar!

Teddy Bear Toast from miniecoTeddy Bear Toast

A delicious looking snack to try for your little bears, look like it can be made by small children too so practical skills, cuteness and a fairly healthy snack or breakfast alternative.

Potato Paw Prints from Sunny Side Up!Potato Paw Prints

I love the idea of actually using jam to make paw prints, but I don’t think I’d be able to go through with it. All small children love to make a big mess pawprints 🙂

Bears from Handprint & Footprint ArtHandprint and Footprint Bears

Another nice and simple craft for young children and up. If you’ve not tried animal handprints, Red Ted Art has an entire alphabet of them!


For older children:
Bears feature in many of David’s books. Look at the bears in the following books:
The Star-Faced Crocodile
The Kiss That Missed trilogy
Two by Two and a half
How they are different from each other and from Hugless Douglas? How are they similar? Are all the bears friendly?

Other book series bears to look out for:
Big Bear & Little Bear (Martin Waddell & Barbara Firth)
Bear (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)
The Bear (Jez Alborough)
The Bear with Sticky Paws (Clara Vulliamy)
George & Bartholemew (Virginia Miller)
Muffin (Clara Vulliamy)
Old Bear & Little Bear (Jane Hissey)
Paddington (Michael Bond & various)
Winnie the Pooh (A A Milne & E H Shepard)

Theme: Other Animals in the Hugless Douglas Books
For sheep, see Theme: Sheep, Wool, Knitting and Hats below

Owl Mask from Made in MeOwl Mask

How much fun is this owl mask? Plus it’s made from leaves so can be preceeded by a nature walk in most seasons, except winter. How would it look with green leaves I wonder?

Amazing Edible Owl from Creative PlayhouseAmazing Edible Owl

A fantastic treat for active youngsters. Krisproll, banana and chocolate buttons – who-ooo could resist? 🙂 I think I must have had food on the brain when I was collecting links, but I love this owl sandwich too!

Bunny Finger Puppet from HolloughbyRabbit Finger Puppet

This finger puppet looks fantastic, and I’m sure the sewing parts could be replaced by glueing for very small children. For something with a template to cut round, there’s these lovely bunny tree decorations.

Theme: Hibernation (Hugless Douglas)

Why has Douglas woken up and forgotten his mum? Well, several months of sleep is enough to confuse anyone! What is hibernation, and what other animals hibernate in winter?

Hibernation Craft from Almost UnschoolersHibernation Diorama

A complex papier-mâché and clay project to be attempted by children with a serious interest in hibernation (or making things!) and a fantastic result to be proud of when complete.

Hibernation Ideas from Mommy and Me Book ClubBear Cave Craft

As well as this bear cave perfect for young children to make, the link also includes a hibernation song and finger play which would be lovely to do with small children. Lots of other ideas too!

Animals in Winter from Montessori Print ShopAnimals in Winter

Not free, but I think Montessori Print Shop’s materials are well worth the price. This downloadable pdf makes a sorting game of how different animals respond to winter: do they hibernate, migrate or adapt?

Theme: Trees, Leaves, Rocks and Seasons (Hugless Douglas)

The search for a perfect hug is also a lovely sensory experience. On a nature walk, try to collect some stones, leaves, bark (or twigs) and maybe some raw wool to feel while reading the story. Does your child think that these things are nice to hug or not?

Autumn Leaf Shapes Printable from Simple CraftsLeaf Shapes

This site has a leaf shape template to download and cut out leaf shapes for all sorts of crafts – the examples on this page are gorgeous. You could also cut out paper leaves to make a tree or animal shapes for example.

Leaf Print Tree from First PaletteLeaf Print Tree

The Hugless Douglas books are full of trees and leaves, so this leaf print tree is a good expressive craft for small children to experiment with senses, colours and mess 🙂

Colourful Spring Branch from Inner Child FunColourful Spring Branch

Douglas wakes in the spring, so this fun craft project is another nice addition. When thinking about trees and leaves, the seasons come to mind as most trees change so visually throughout the seasons.

Rock Sensory Bin from Crafts-N-ThingsRock Sensory Bin

Great fun for small children – playing with stones and searching for small objects hidden in them. With added sensory feel of the rocks/pebbles – rough and smooth could be covered here too.

This huge free download from CurrClick has some seasonal learning ideas. I particularly like the tree patterns sheet on page 8, and the ‘how do I adapt to the seasons’ game on pages 41-42.

Theme: Sheep, Wool, Knitting & Hats (Don’t Worry Hugless Douglas)

Sheep feature throughout the Hugless Douglas books, and as an added learning link through Douglas’ hat is wooly. Conversations about how sheep are sheared for summer, how raw wool is processed and knitting and crochet can follow on from here.

Do you have any hats at home? What kind of hats are they: sun hats, winter hats, decorative hats? Why do we use hats? Can you design a hat? There are lots of hat crafts for small children, from a simple paper hat to pirate hats and beyond…

Cotton wool lamb from Rainy Day MumCotton Wool Sheep

Making sheep from cotton wool is loads of fun. This is a Mary had a Little Lamb craft which in turn leads to thinking about rhymes and fairy tales that can be read after Hugless Douglas, for example Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Cloud Dough from Pre-School PlayCloud Dough

This cloud dough looks like wooly sheep and would be a nice sensory follow on from thinking about sheep. Compare the texture with wool too, to see how things that look similar can feel very different.

Felted Balls from Let the Children PlayFelted Balls

Another sensory experience, and could be combined with the sensory bin idea for trees, leaves and rocks plus roving shows the stage between raw wool and yarn wool.

Wool Sheep from Mrs Karen's Pre-School IdeasWool Sheep

I think this craft idea is really good for cementing the link between wool on sheep and the wool used for knitting etc. The link has lots of farmyard ideas which don’t quite follow for Hugless Douglas but would be fun for another day.

Monster Hat from Knotty KnottyCrochet Hat

A fairly tenuous link here, but I thought this hat was so cute! I can’t knit or crochet but parents who can could probably make this together with children – the eyes might be good for children to make for instance. There’s some lovely hats on this site, including an owl hat.

Theme: Underground Homes (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)

Rabbit lives underground. What other animals can you think of that live underground? Ants, worms, moles? What are the similarities and differences between animals who make their homes under the ground?

Theme: Nocturnal and Diurnal (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)

Hugless Douglas goes to Rabbit’s for a sleepover. They are sleeping at night. Some animals sleep in the day. What does nocturnal mean? What does diurnal mean? What nocturnal and diurnal animals can you think of?

Nocturnal and Diurnal from A Little Learning for TwoNocturnal or Diurnal

A simple, visual way of describing the difference between nocturnal and diurnal animals plus ideas for a sorting game to make using pictures found online and printed.

Nocturnal or Diurnal from Montessori Print ShopNocturnal or Diurnal Sorting Game

Not free, but another Montessori Print Shop sorting game perfect for Hugless Douglas follow-on and saves looking up animals and finding quality images yourself.

Silly Songs
I couldn’t resist creating these silly songs (to the tune of well known nursery rhymes). I hope Mr Melling and Hachette Children’s Books will forgive me! 😉

You can download the song sheet here.

Depending on the age and interest of the child, reading the Goblins books to them before or after Hugless Douglas could lead on to cross-over activities. Some questions to think about:
What would a Hug Goblin look like?
Where would it live?
What would it do?
What would happen if Hugless Douglas met a Hug Goblin? Can you write a story about this?

And now it’s your turn… Please comment or add a link below. Tomorrow I will be rounding up a selection of colouring sheets and other resources you can download.

Note: All images are © their respective websites.

Hugless Douglas Week: Giveaway

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep: David Melling (Hodder Children's Books, 2012)

To celebrate the publication day of the paperback of Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep on 4th October I will be having a week of Hugless Douglas posts including reviews, activities and where to download colouring sheets etc.

To start the week off, I’m opening a giveaway for one hardback copy of the third Hugless Douglas book plus a copy of the activity book you can usually only get by attending an event. You can read my original review of the book here, or the edited re-post is below.

Before you read that, let me point you in the direction of Hugless Douglas events with David Melling coming up very soon:
6th October 2012: Cheltenham Literary Festival
(SOLD OUT, Sorry!) 7th October 2012: Bath Literary Festival
12th October 2012: Wimbledon BookFest
31st October 2012: Wessex Festival
10th November 2012: Leicester Festival
See www.davidmelling.co.uk for more details.

UPDATE: Thanks to the generosity of Hachette Children’s Books and David Melling, more prizes added plus all books can be SIGNED if wanted. Giveaway extended until Tuesday 9th October due to extra prizes.

Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep is the third in the Hugless Douglas series, and 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…

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

Kind permission given by David Melling to use storyboard sketch

Poor Douglas. They pushed... ...and they pulled.

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. (And I just love how this Rabbit instantly just decides to dig a bigger hole because she is, after all, a rabbit…)

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…

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