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CREATING HUG

The Inspiration for Hug

Early Hug SketchHug began with a drawing of an elephant being hugged round the trunk by a bird. I liked the idea that the smallest hug has the power to fill up even the largest animal. (Shown here are other early drawings where the bird has lost its Mum). These images got me thinking about hugs, how they can express the deepest feelings without the need for words, how everybody needs a hug sometime - wherever you are born or whether you are young or old. Hugs are a universal phenomenon.

How the Story Developed
In the beginning I had a collection of images, linked with rhymes of all the different species hugging in their different ways: the elephant with his trunk, the snakes entwined etc. Although this worked on one level I felt the book would have more punch if the hugs were linked with a story. And if you are writing about hugs there is only one real story - a lost hug. It is the story of the lost child in the supermarket. Although there may be other adults to take care of it, only the hug of its Mum will make the child feel safe again.

Use of Words
When I drew the story up in a dummy book it had no words at all and it worked quite pleasingly. I felt however that I should try to tell the story with words to see if it added anything to the storytelling. I found that the most effective approach was to use words but very sparingly (i.e. only 3!) The word ‘hug’ followed by a question mark is a lot more subtle than the more obvious phrase which could have been used: ‘I want my Mummy!’. I liked the fact that the same word, spoken in different situations throughout the book could mean different things. When Bobo says ‘HUG’ at the start it means ‘There is a hug’, a few pages on it begins to say ‘I have lost my hug’ whereas near the end of the story ‘HUG’ clearly translates as ‘I want my Mummy - now.’ When all the animals say ‘HUG’ on the last spread you could say that it has come to mean: ‘ We all need each other.

Universality
In Hug I wanted different species of animals to represent various nationalities who were united in their understanding of the language of hugging. This is partly why there are so many animals in there, and so many different types of animals. To see the amazing patchwork coat of the giraffe next to the shiny gray and pink hide of the hippos or the multicoloured snakes was an important symbol to me (as well as being an important contributor to the colour and brightness of the book).

Hug Sketch

The Use of a Chimpanzee for the Central Character
By now the bird of my original sketch had become a monkey both because it has long arms for a more expressive hug and also having the closest animal to human as the protagonist helps the reader relate more to him. These decisions happen instinctively - it is only afterwards that you can analyse the reasoning behind them.

 

Hugathon
I liked the idea that if every Mum or Dad gives their child a hug after reading the book there would be one more hug in the world for each reading. This led on to the idea for the Hugathon. What if we could sponsor the biggest hug ever attempted (involving the most amount of people at the same time) and send the money to the charity 'Children in Need'? This perfectly symbolised the spirit of the book.

Mirror Article

About the Pictures

About the Pictures