Celebrating doctors and nurses: Matt Carr's 5 favourite literary medical marvels

Published on: 06 July 2020

Matt Carr's brand new book Now Wash Your Hands! is a fun way to help children with hygiene - and a donation will be made to the NHS for every copy sold. Here, Matt chooses some of his favourite doctors and nurses from children's books...

The front cover of Now Wash Your Hands by Matt Carr

The NHS has always been dear to all our hearts, and never more so than this year. Everyone has been looked after or had loved ones cared for by amazing doctors and nurses at some point in their lives.

I am always in awe of the way that doctors and nurses go calmly about their business without any fuss or fanfare. It makes my job feel rather ridiculous, I can tell you: 'What did you do today, Dad?' 'Oh, I drew a giant pink octopus wearing a cap and a stethoscope!'

But I digress! To celebrate Doris the Doctorpus starring in her own book, Now Wash Your Hands, here are some of my favourite literary medical marvels...

1. Dr Dog by Babette Cole

The front cover of Dr Dog by Babette Cole

Now, I have to say that Dr Dog is my favourite doctor in a children's book. He looks after the Gumboyle family, who all have terrible habits like picking their noses and bums and eating too much bad food and even smoking, which drives Dr Dog around the bend as they ignore all of his advice.

My favourite thing is when Grandad eats too many beans and breaks wind and blows the roof off the house! When my daughters were little I loved reading this to them. It never failed to make them laugh and it also has great advice for everyone about various self-inflicted conditions!

2. Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

He's got to be one of the most famous doctors in the world! Doctor Dolittle lives in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh and swaps human patients for animals as he gets on better with them. In fact, he learns to talk to them! He lives with Polynesia the parrot, Pub-Gub the pig, Jim the dog, Dab-Dab the goose, Chee-Chee the monkey, Too-Too the owl and of course the amazing Pushmi-Pullyu, a llama with a head at both ends! Crazy!

When I was little I remember wanting to be Doctor Dolittle and talk to animals. I tried, but it never worked (although I'm sure my cat said, 'Me? How?' once when I asked it whether it had attacked my tuna sandwich or not).

3. Zog and the Flying Doctors by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

The front cover of Zog and the Flying Doctors by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

The flying doctors are Zog the dragon, Princess Pearl and Sir Gadabout (I'm not sure they are actual, qualified doctors, but we'll let them off!) They fly about on Zog the dragon, who becomes a sort of air ambulance!

They have a busy old time of it looking after a sunburnt mermaid, a unicorn in distress and a lion with the sneezes. And eventually, they have to cure Princess Pearl's uncle, the King. As always with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the rhyming story is great and the illustrations superb. Axel is one of my favourite illustrators.

4. Nurse Clementine by Simon James

To me, nurses are as important as doctors, and this is a lovely tale about a little girl called Clementine Brown. She gets a nurse's outfit for her birthday and then all she needs is some patients. She has to wait a bit so she needs a bit of patience (see what I did there!?) but eventually she helps Dad with a stubbed toe and cures her Mum's headache. The dog even gets a bit of treatment too when he is covered in bandages!

All this is good practice for a real emergency involving her little brother and a tree. I've loved Simon James' books and his beautiful illustrations ever since The Wild Woods, which was so simple yet brilliant.

5. Madam Pomfrey from the Harry Potter series

Talking of nurses, you can't beat Madam Pomfrey, who as we all know is the matron at Hogwarts. She was on hand to look after Harry Potter and his friends throughout their school adventures. She is, of course, a witch and specialises in healing magic - over the years, she dealt with all sorts of things including curses and dragon bites. There's not much she can't handle and all the goings on at Hogwarts keeps her very busy indeed!

Now Wash Your Hands by Matt Carr is out in July, published by Scholastic. A 50p contribution per copy sold will be donated in aid of the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

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