'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 9 October 2010

Review: Maudie and the Bear

It was such a thrill to meet Jan Ormerod in person recently – and hear her read from her beautiful books. This talented Australian author/illustrator has a library of books behind her – and I couldn’t be more green with envy that she both authors and illustrates much of her work… oh, and gets to work with other amazing talent, too!

 In Maudie and the Bear, this new release from Little Hare, Ormerod has worked with the illustrious Freya Blackwood to produce a book that sent me straight back to my own childhood which was stacked high with hard cover picture books that told whimsical stories, cut straight from the cloth of everyday life.

Written in chapter book style, yet dominated by artwork, we meet adorable little Maudie and her live-in friend – an enormous brown bear who cooks, cleans and looks after his little charge. In chapter one, the friends go on a bike ride (because exercise and fresh air are so good for you) but little Maudie first needs to raid the dress up box for glasses, a hat and fur stole – as little girls do.

In chapter two, Maudie explores the forest Red-Riding-Hood-style, gets a fright and runs home to Bear to sit in her own chair, with a cup of tea as opposed to a bowl of porridge. In chapter three, the friends make a snack and serve it in a toy’s tea party to die for (so wish I could have been there!).

In chapter four, there’s a misunderstanding and making-up, then in the final chapter, Maudie tries to tell her friend a story. The text is emotive, full of lovely dialogue children will relate to, and is perfect for both the very young and primary school kids.

The book’s illustrations are reminiscent of retro artists like Eloise Wilkin, yet with Blackwood’s consummate signature style – pictures so charming and pretty, they could be framed and hung all over the walls. But most importantly, Blackwood’s artistic interpretation rallies up the book’s text and beautifully complements every word.

Warm, comforting and beautiful, what I love about this book is not only its harking back to a classic childhood of the past, but its simple, oh so sweetness. This is a slice of everyday life in an extraordinary circumstance – a little girl who lives with a bear… and I have no doubt that a new generation of little girls will grow up dreaming of cohabiting in such a way.

Me, too.

Title: Maudie and the Bear
Author: Jan Ormerod
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Little Hare, A$29.95RRP
Publication Date: October 2010
ISBN: 9781921541407
Type: Picture Book

This book is available online