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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maudie and Bear, written by Jan Ormerod and illustrated by Freya Blackwood. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin. 2010. $19.50 ages 4 and up

"Would you like some porridge?" asked Bear. "I just want tea," said Maudie. "Not too hot, not too sweet, in my very own cup, sitting in my own chair. And I don't want anybody else sitting in it!" Then she burst into tears. "I wouldn't sit in your chair," said Bear. "It is far too small for me. But you are very welcome to sit in mine sometime."

Here are two characters who are the very best of friends. In their five forays together, we learn about each of them and their shared world. We also learn that Bear is the kindest and most thoughtful friend it is possible to be and to have. Maudie can be very annoying and demanding; Bear stays the course and supports her through each new escapade.

He takes her on a bike ride when she thinks that exercise must be a good thing. Maudie sits in the basket. He provides tea and solace after she has a near drastic encounter with three bears whose home she has been ransacking for porridge and rest. When a snack is required, he makes her favorite foods, and prepares a terrific and appealing table. When they have a little tiff, it is Bear who does all he can to bring peace and harmony back to their friendship. When Maudie wants to share a story at the end of a long day and Bear is tired, he listens with patience. When he succumbs to sleep, and is awakened, he apologizes by taking Maudie for a walk and letting her sleep while he finishes the story. It's just lovely!

The artwork is earthy with touches of red and blue. It is as soft and lovely as the stories themselves.
The loose pencil lines enclose the gentle feel of the watercolor illustrations and add a magical quality with  tiny, imaginative boxed scenes and the gentle nature of the large bear. The changing perspectives add interest and an invitation to spend extra time perusing the scenes. They are a complement to every written word.

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