Hugless - 1David Melling shares the inspiration that brought to life his loveable bear with Anthony Pious

What better way to start the day than to share a great big hug? This simple loveable act lies at the heart of author-illustrator David Melling’s bestselling children’s story, Hugless Douglas, a cuddly bear who always needs a hug in the morning.

Melling held an interactive workshop at the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival teaching budding young artists how to draw his famous bear. He also revealed to his audience that the spark of inspiration that brought Hugless Douglas to life was a chance conversation that he had with his young son.

“I was reading to my four-year-old son one evening and at the end of the story he yawned and said: ‘Aww that’s a tired hug’,” David explains. “In the morning he said: ‘Dad, I’m going to give you a breakfast hug’. He had so many different types of hugs. A few days later, I thought hang on, there’s a story here. That’s how Hugless Douglas was brought to life.”

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To date his cuddly character has starred in 11 books and Melling admits that he still gets “a real thrill when kids say: ‘I like your books’.

Each illustration in Hugless Douglas is hand drawn and painted by Melling himself. A self-confessed technophobe, David still often uses a trusty hairdryer to dry his paintings and admits that using software to create illustrations is something he is still getting used to.

Melling grew up in East Sheen and his return to speak at the Festival brought back lots of happy childhood memories. From an early age his sculptor dad encouraged him to create and he was “always drawing and rubbing things out to make the perfect legs on a horse”.

The children and parents who attended the event were also encouraged to put pencil to paper and create their own drawings of Hugless Douglas too. To bring the event to a brilliant end there was even a visit from Hugless Douglas himself, who true to form was so pleased to meet everyone, he gave them a great big bear hug.


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