To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Shirley Hughes’ timeless classic Dogger - a book about a child losing his favourite toy - we spoke to the author about the inspiration behind the renowned picture book and just what her own childhood toys meant to her.
The child characters in my stories are all imaginary but Dogger is a real toy. He belongs to my elder son, and was much beloved. When he first arrived, both his ears flopped over, but he was pressed so lovingly between his owner’s face and the pillow that one ear became permanently cocked upwards.
He was never lost, thank heavens. But most parents are haunted by the fear that the one comforting object without which their small offspring cannot possibly go to sleep at night might go missing at bedtime.
I lost my own favourite toy, a koala bear called Oscar. For some unknown reason, I threw him out of the window of a car on a journey to North Wales, and he was never found.
In another of my stories an elderly toy dog called Bobbo was thrown through the air and travelled to school on top of the school bus.
I wrote and illustrated the story of Dogger in the mornings, when my children were at school, and I was surprised and, of course, thrilled by the reception it received.
Dogger has been on show in various museums and exhibitions, but he has now given up the celebrity circuit and lives quietly in his box, only to emerge on special family occasions.
By Shirley Hughes
When Dave loses his favourite toy, Dogger, he is desolate. But then Dogger turns up at the school summer fair, and everything seems all right - until someone else buys him before Dave can get the money! A classic picture book from award-winning author-illustrator Shirley Hughes tells the endearing story of how Dogger, the much loved toy dog, was lost and finally found again.