Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Happy Birthday, Hugless Douglas

Happy Birthday, Hugless Douglas by David Melling (Hodder/Hachette)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN: 9781444913262
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

David Melling's adorable illustrations of Hugless Douglas never fail to appeal. In this fifth story about the brown bear, Douglas finds his birthday party is not all he hoped. His two small and very presumptuous cousins, Felix and Mash, set about ripping it apart, literally. They take over, opening his presents and commencing to play with them, including the biggest - a doctor's trolley. But at last Douglas takes a stand. He is determined to enjoy his birthday. He grabs his new pogo stick and begins to bounce. But after a few bounces the pogo stick breaks, sending him tumbling and hurting his leg.
There are plenty of bandages and instruments to fix him up and his friends swing into action. His two naughty cousins are much kinder and very soon Douglas and his friends are enjoying themselves, eating and playing doctors. Douglas soon announces it is his best birthday party ever.
David Melling has produced lively, colourful double page spreads of the party scenarios and Douglas's cute and varied animal friends. They are full of fun and humour and toddlers will have a great deal to absorb and giggle about.

The text, in large, often highlighted fonts, supports the illustrations and there is only one double page spread where I think the text about Felix and Mash playing with the trolley is misplaced. I loved the zany cake-and-balloon sandwiches floating above the guests, and the concept of everyone playing doctors and covering each other in bandages as a party game is an original touch. Happy Birthday, Hugless Douglas is well worth adding to the collection of picture books about this endearing bear.

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