Hugless Douglas needs no introduction. This is his fourth adventure and he is loved by children and parents not just in the UK but across the world. It’s not hard to see why either: with his round, soft tummy, hopeful expression, and ever present sense of wonder, Douglas is pretty much irresistible. He has all the makings of a classic character for the very young: like Mick Inkpen’s Kipper, no matter what Douglas is up to, he is always clearly and unmistakeably a toddler.
In this story he’s called upon to help Flossie the lamb find Little Sheep. Flossie and Little Sheep are best friends and when, reunited at last, they trot happily off together, Douglas is suddenly left feeling sad. After the animated, madcap fun of the search for Little Sheep, David Melling captures Douglas’ change of mood beautifully, painting him in solitary splendour, staring wistfully away from the reader into the distance.
Of course, that’s not the end of the book, and on the next spread, all of the animals are back to provide Douglas with the love and hugs he needs. Somehow through all the daftness (the bouncing bunnies are particularly satisfyingly silly), the reader has been on a real emotional journey and will close the book smiling, and reassured.