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My son saw a picture of this dragon in the back jacket of another book and immediately asked if he could have this. I had a wee look at the dooyoo reviews for it, and decided it did sound like something he would like and ordered a copy. Unfortunately, this was one of the rare cases where Amazon couldn't deliver, after waiting two months I cancelled my order and found a used copy on ebay. I believe this is out of print now as the Book Depository lists it as unavailable as well. Amazon does have a few used copies as well, and one new from an unknown seller. I believe I paid nearly £8 for this used, but you can get a paperback copy at the moment for a bit less. Was it worth it? Yes.
' Too Hot to Hug' begins with a little boy, bundled up against the cold searching for firewood. Caught in a snow storm he takes shelter in a small cave and discovers a wonderfully warm glowing egg. He brings it home where his parents enjoy the warmth as well, but not for long. Soon the egg hatches and a beautiful golden dragon emerges. Rupert's parents order him to get rid of the beast, but when they realise how warm he is, they decide to keep him, naming him Crumpet. At first he is very useful but as Crumpet grows, he gets hotter and hotter. Soon he is too hot to hug, and when he accidentally burns a few things the parents decide to get rid of him.
My son thought Rupert's parents were horrid and I have to agree with him. They seemed to only care for the dragon as long as he was useful to them, and when he caused a bit of trouble the first solution was just to take him out somewhere and abandon him. It reminds me of the way many people treat pets such as dogs.
This book is beautifully illustrated. The pages are all very bright and colourful, and would be ideal to engage even the youngest child. The expressions are drawn perfectly adding both humour and heartbreak to the story. This is intended as a read aloud book, but the text is very large and clear ( although slightly irregular) and I feel this would be useful for an older child to read as well - especially if they have a younger sibling to read to. My son absolutely loved the little dragon, and I must say he is the cutest little dragon we have ever seen. The story does seem very sad at times, but being a children's book this does have a very happy ending. As I feel the ending is what makes the book worth buying, I am including it below under a spoiler alert warning, but if you'd rather find out for yourself, please stop reading here.
As Rupert leads the poor little dragon up the mountain to discard him both the boy and the dragon look completely heartbroken. Thankfully what appears to be an unfortunate accident is a blessing in disguise. When Rupert falls into a mountain stream, he is cool enough to hug again. Now whenever Crumpet grows too hot, he simply takes a bath with Rupert, heating the icy cold water so that bath time is fun for both. Once the dragon was useful again, instead of being a nuisance, Rupert's parents let him stay. My son still felt a bit sorry for Rupert that he had such selfish parents, but at least he had a lovely dragon to keep him company. The last picture is delightful with both the boy and the dragon in a big bath overflowing with bubbles.
On the plus side perhaps both children an adults will think of this story if the time ever comes when they find a pet has become a bit of a nuisance. Of course their are times when an animal must be rehomed - but not without at least trying to find a better alternative.
We have a wide range of children's picture books in this house and they seem to come in and out of favour on a regular basis. My son (now 6) receved 'Too Hot to Hug by Steve Smallman as a present a couple of years ago, when he was going through a phase where he was very into dragons. He then went off it for a while and we only read it very rarely, but it has recently been re-discovered by my two year old daughter - and, as she is the type of child that gets obsessed with a book for a week or two before moving on to the next big thing, we have been reading it again and again and again.
* The Story *
Rupert and his family live up in the mountains in a house without central heating or hot water. One day, Rupert is out in the snow searching for firewood when he discovers a golden egg - and, this is not just any golden egg, it is an egg which radiates warmth. He takes the golden egg home to his family and, just as they are appreciating the warmth of the egg, it cracks and out hatches a baby fire dragon! Of course, Dad (who seems like the logical one in the family) declares that they can't keep the dragon as they are 'nothing but trouble' , but within a few minutes the very cute, very warm little dragon has melted the family's hearts and they allow him to stay. They name him Crumpet because he is 'as warm as toasted crumpets' and for a while, they all live happily together. But, as Crumpet grows up, he starts to get hotter and hottter and soon he is too hot to hug. So, they decide that Rupert must take Crumpet back to where he found him and they set off back up the mountain - however, in the tradition of all good childrens' stories, there is a twist in the tale and, ultimately, they all live happily ever after.
* Illustrations *
I really like the illustrations that Cee Biscoe has done for this story. The human characters in the story are believable and the style in which they are drawn gives them real personality. They are shown going about their everyday tasks and interacting with Crumpet in a way that even the smallest listener can relate to - my two year old likes to point out what they are doing with comments like 'look, he in the bath' or 'look, the dragon make fire on the toast'. My favourite aspect of the illustrations is Crumpet the Dragon himself - he is just so cute. He is drawn in a way which makes him look friendly, lovable and appealing to young children and adults alike - there is nothing remotely scary about this dragon.
* Cost *
Too Hot to Hug is currently available on Amazon for £4.49. The RRP is £5.99.
* My Thoughts *
This is a genuinely lovely story which will appeal to most young children, not just those who are into dragons. It is a story about family, love and friendship which warms the heart just like Crumpet warms the family that take him in. I would suggest that it is suitable for reading to children up to the age at which they become confident independent readers. My little girl will be 3 in February and she can easily follow the story and talk about what is happening. My son is just 6 and starting to read on his own and he still enjoys snuggling up and listening to this every once in a while. It is a bit above his reading abilities at the moment, but I'm hoping that some day in the not too distant future he will be able to read this for himself. It is a story that brings together an element of fantasy (with the dragon) and an element of reality (with the family life), encourages discussion while reading it and has a bit of a feel-good factor as well. Like all the books in our collection, the popularity of this one comes and goes a bit but overall, it is a book that I would definitely recommend.
As you will know from any of my previous reviews, my little girl is a real bookworm so it was clear to me that she would like some books from Father Christmas! One of the books I had seen in The Book People leaflet was about a baby dragon which looked really cute and the story sounded lovely but after a trip to Camelot (where there is a large talking pink dragon) my little girl had developed a fear so I was unsure what to do. In the end I decided to choose something else and forget the dragon. Last week my mum took her to the library and what book did she come home with??? The very book I wanted to buy!
The book is called Too Hot To Hug and is written by Steve Smallman, illustrated by Cee Biscoe. It was first published in 2010 by Little Tiger Press. The cover of the book is prodminantly purple with a picture of a little yellow dragon with tears running down his face, and smoke blowing out of his little nose. The title is in large yellow letters at the top of the cover which really stands out against the purple background. The reverse of the cover shows a picture of the little dragon along with a small boy and as with all books, some text about the book.
On a very cold day in winter, a little boy called Rupert was high in the hills searching for firewood and his little fingers were blue, his nose was purple and he couldn't find a single stick. Through the snow he saw a cave which looked warm and he hoped there would be a fire in there but there was no fire - just a big, glowing, golden egg! Rupert picked up the egg and found it was very warm and he cuddled it to feel the warmth from his nose to his toes. Rupert thought of his mum and dad freezing at home in their cottage and decided to take the warm egg home. When he arrived home to show his parents the egg starts to crack and then out hatches a baby fire dragon. Rupert is thrilled to bits, but his mum and dad are worried and tell him he must take the dragon back as they are nothing but trouble. The baby dragon started to cry, so Rupert picks him up and cuddles him and realises he is as "warm as crumpets!". Mum and dad feel the warmth and decide that they can keep him, and they call him crumpet. All through the winter the dragon keeps them warm, dries the washing, warmed the beds, made the toast and gave the best warm hugs.
Crumpet is scared of water, so when Rupert is having a bath he hides behind the sofa until he is finished and then he gives him a warm hug until he is toasty! When Winter passes and turns to Spring, Crumpet begins to grow - but as he grew he got hotter and hotter and soon it was too much to have him around. Crumpet tries to hug the family, but they have to turn him away as he is just too hot to hug! One day, Crumpet burnt the toast and mum decides thats it and that Crumpet has to go so next morning Rupert sets off up the mountain with a very sad Crumpet. Walking over a bridge, Crumpets hot hands begin to burn Ruperts hand even through an oven glove and Rupert jumps causing poor Crumpet to slip and fall into the water. Rupert jumps in to save him, worried as Crumpet is so scared of water - but the cold mountain river is no longer cold, it is lovely and warm!! There was Crumpet, splashing, gurgling and giggling in the water! Back on dry land, Rupert hugs Crumpet tight, only he wasn't hot and scorchy anymore, he was crumpety warm again. The cold water had cooled him right down. Rupert took him back home and they lived happily, and when Crumpet got too hot....he has a great big bubbly bath!
The illustrations in this book are really well drawn, each page is bright and colourful and the pictures are large filling the whole page. The expressions on the little dragons face are just wonderful, we see happy, sad, contented and frightened and each one is recogniseable by my daughter which shows how well drawn they are. The final page which shows the big dragon in the bubble bath with the little boy is a cute and fun picture, which is my little girls favourite.
We must read this story at least four times a day and it would be more if my little girl had her way! I really like this story, and I like the fact that it is about a baby dragon as it introduces children to a new "animal". I asked my little girl what she likes so much about this story and she says it is that the dragon is cute and she doesn't like it when he looks sad, and that because hugs are warm it makes her happy. Whenever we have read this story, my little girl gives me a huge hug and asks me if its warm like Crumpets!
The RRP of this book is £10.99 though you will find it cheaper on Amazon, starting from £5.09.
Thank you for reading my review!