Picture Book Snob
Why sometimes it's great being wonderfully one!
One Camel Called Doug by Lu Fraser and Sarah Warburton, Simon and Schuster, February 2022
The squashy-toed love is strong for this one! One Camel Called Doug joins Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton and Counting Creatures by Julia Donaldson and Sharon King-Chai on our list of favourite counting books. In addition to introducing the concept of numbers in a fun and child-friendly way, this story also celebrates the importance of self-care and alone time, with GORGEOUS illustrations.
We meet Doug, a solitary camel who laments how difficult it is to play hide and seek without company. But then, 'through the haze and the shimmering heat, plods a shadowy shape on squashy-toed feet,' and Doug is joined by a camel named Brian. Another arrives, followed by one more, and another, until all of a sudden, there's an entire herd.
The camels delight in each other's company and engage in lots of high-energy activities. But after a while, Doug begins to feel 'all camelled out' and longs for peace and quiet. He appreciates his cosy hammock and fluffy blanket even more after frolicking with all his new friends and understands there's nothing wrong with the number one! Camels aren't may not be known for their tangoing, trapeze, skipping, relay-running, bobsleighing or five-aside football skills, but that's all about to change! Camel parties are apparently legendary and include musical bumps (with glittery humps), cactus piñatas and treasure hunts, as well as games of pass the parcel. When I was a child, I absolutely loved pass the parcel and was THRILLED to see it make an appearance here!
The whole book has a glorious retro '80s and '90s charm. Doug's hair is slightly punky and he wears legwarmers, while a boombox provides the music during the camel party games. The colour palette is beautiful and the skies filled with stars and pink clouds are especially striking. There is so much pink and orange in this book, it reminds me a little of sherbert - another childhood staple of the late twentieth century! The cover is spectacular with sparkly, silver foil stars all over it that make the story shine even brighter. We love the camels' expressions, hairstyles, wide eyes and prominent teeth and the group camel scenes are particularly amusing. It's brilliant how daft the camels look in these, especially the last one which includes a camel wearing a Viking helmet as a football bounces towards another (who has a bird on its head). And the fancy dress outfits are genius!
It's fantastic how Sarah Warburton has given the camels so much personality; it's possible to tell even the nameless ones apart. They all have distinct features and the texture and the colour of their fur differs too. My kids love the camel that always has a bird on his head (who they've christened Bernard) and how he is eating in every scene. Although I'd never considered what trapezing camels might look like, Sarah captures this perfectly! It's hilarious how serious the camels look when dancing the tango and their gleeful enthusiasm for the seesaw is infectious.
One Camel Called Doug serves as yet another reminder of what a skilled writer Lu Fraser is. Once again, her rhyming text is masterful with an elegant, lyrical quality. There's lots of alliteration and repetition making this even more appealing to children and a joy to read aloud. It's wonderful how this story reassures little readers that it's OK to need time to themselves while also showing how much fun it can be to interact with others. Make friends with Doug - you won't regret it.
One Camel Called Doug was published in February 2022 by Simon and Schuster - see this book on the publisher's website Find reviews of more books written by Lu Fraser Lu Fraser and Sarah Massini tell us all about The Witchling's Wish
Lu Fraser shares her top five feel-good stories with us to celebrate the release of The Viking Who Liked Icing
We chat to Lu Fraser about her debut with Kate Hindley, The Littlest Yak Are you at your happiest within a hectic herd or do you get all camelled out very quickly? I'm definitely someone who enjoys my own company. I even get up a few hours before the rest of my family every day so that I can have some precious time to myself! In case you need some persuading, here are seven science-backed reasons why spending time alone is beneficial.