Written by Jan Ormerod, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010
“I need some exercise,” said Maudie.
“Fresh air would be nice,” said Bear.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl and her bear friend have fun together
There are five short stories in this book. In the first one, Maudie and Bear decide to go bike riding. They are about to go when Maudie remembers her sunglasses. Then she goes back in for their hats (trying on several before choosing one). Then she goes back to get her scarf. Next she goes back for sunscreen and then remembers bug spray. She gets into the basket and Bear gets on the bike and Maudie points out that exercise is good for you.
Author Jan Ormerod was also an accomplished artist, who wrote and illustrated many of her own books. She provided artwork for books by several other authors, including illustrating an edition of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Her writing style is very economical and straightforward, without a lot of excessive description or conjecture. The five stories included in this book are all quick reads. My chief issue with this book is the lopsidedness of the relationship between these two. I’m sure we’re meant to understand that Bear is happy to take such loving care of Maudie because he loves her so much and I completely get that. But Maudie just seems so unappreciative (and more than a little bratty) to me that I wound up feeling more and more frustrated (and less enchanted) as the stories progressed.
The artwork, from Freya Blackwood, is wonderful and lovely, with occasional inset pictures that show us more of the story. There’s a softness to the artwork that mirrors the warm cuddliness of Bear’s character. I liked the way that Maudie was drawn as well, particularly in the bike story, in her aviator cap and goggles. Sadly, though,this is another book that didn’t live up to its very promising artwork for me.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the best friends take good care of each other. If your friend treats you exceptionally well, make sure you’re returning the favor once in a while.