cover image Maudie and Bear

Maudie and Bear

Jan Ormerod, illus. by Freya Blackwood. Putnam, $16.99 (38p) ISBN 978-0-399-25709-4

With her Mary Janes, hair bow, and wardrobe of vintage shifts and jumpers, Blackwood’s (Harry & Hopper) supremely confident Maudie is a girl plucked from the pages of Kate Greenaway. As her best friend/parent surrogate, Bear weathers Maudie’s diva behavior with stoic patience, unconditional love, and a willingness both to do Maudie’s bidding and the resultant washing up. In fact, Bear’s selflessness almost puts the Giving Tree to shame, and this affection gap nearly undermines the five short stories that make up this book about truly unconditional love. The one exception is a take on the Goldilocks story, which ends with the normally self-assured and self-centered Maudie comically discombobulated after fleeing the bears’ house just in time. “Would you like some porridge?” the unflappable Bear asks. “I just want tea.... in my very own cup, sitting in my very own chair,” Maudie cries, barring the door dramatically and bursting into tears. “And I don’t want anybody else sitting in it!” Ormerod’s (Molly and Her Dad) writing is a model of economy and comic understatement, and Maudie and Bear’s interactions will be familiar to readers of all ages and temperaments. Ages 5–8. (Jan.)