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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hugless Douglas, written and illustrated by David Melling. Hodder, Hachette. 2010. $12.99 ages 3 and up

"'My best hugs are TALL, '
thought Douglas.

So he went up to the
tallest thing he could

He hugged the bottom...
he hugged around the middle...
and he hugged as high as
he could reach."
When young Douglas awakens in the spring following his first hibernation, he is lonely and needs a HUG! His knowledge of hugs is scant, so he must learn as he goes. He cleans himself up, doffs his scarf and is off to find something to hug.

He knows his hugs are BIG and so he tries to hug an enormous rock...too heavy. Well, maybe a hug should be TALL and he hugs a tree....splinters! On and on he goes, alarming some of his forest neighbors, none of whom want to be the recipients of his best 'bear' hug.

It takes a gentle and kind rabbit, with a little fear in his heart, to lead Douglas to a cave where he feels an immediate affinity to its inhabitant. Douglas is clearly and quickly drawn to the object of his affection...his Mum! It's then he realizes that the best hugs come from 'someone I love' and he snuggles right in.

The illustrations are so inviting...beginning with the title page...the perfect place for such an invitation. A huge snore emanates from the mouth of a nearby cave causing sheep to gape in wonder at the noise and a rabbit to use two sheep and a red rope as ear plugs to protect his most important appendages. As the story opens, we come face to throat with Douglas, mouth wide and yawning. On every page there are amusing and boldly colored images of a naive and oafish bear as he searches for what he is missing. Humor abounds and a sense of care and concern as Douglas maintains a relentless search for the warmth and welcome of his mother's arms. 

The final two pages display a seemingly endless array of hugs...sandwich, shy, group, and name but a few. How many more can you imagine? What fun to share and share again!

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