Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer and Daniel Rieley
|Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer and Daniel Rieley|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: So obvious, and yet so patently enjoyable – this won me over, and will be a hard and fast winner.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: January 2017|
|Publisher: OUP Oxford|
|External links: Author's website|
Meet Arthur. He's a young lad with a lot on his shoulders, and nearly all of it seems to come courtesy of his younger brother, Liam. Liam, you see, is on the autistic spectrum – at the colour marked rocking to and fro lots, face to the TV screen so Arthur can't see the football, and shrieking at the slightest sign of stress. Arthur for one stresses because of this situation, so is leaving home for good one day – with lucky charms in his pockets – when he nearly bumps into Mister P on their doorstep. Mister P is a tall, distinguished character, oddly bearing a small suitcase that smells of fish and has a label on it stating Arthur and Liam's address. Has he possibly come to stay? That would be weird. And what is even weirder, as of course the cover tells you, is that Mister P is a polar bear…
The prime factor in how much I loved this book is that it is patently obvious from the start what it will be about, and what the story/Mister P is for, but you don't care a jot. 'See', said Rosie, 'Mister P knows how to get things sorted. And while at the start we might not see every beat of that sorting, it's blindingly clear what Mister P is principally here to sort. A review I read recently in anticipation of the (staggeringly good) movie version of A Monster Calls said it was one of three films to feature 'monsters' sent to help children in 2016 alone. And while nobody can really read these pages and say Mister P is a monster, however smelly his breath gets, this is clearly part of a burgeoning genre.
But there's nothing formulaic about this read. Mister P, then – not a monster – is instead a gem of a character. The jury will be out on how much he understands Arthur's conversation, and how much is animal intuition, but he joins Paddington in being the world's most entertaining and heart-warming literary bears. It would be wrong of me to pick out highlights about his nature, and what he gets up to – the book is perfectly pitched length-wise for the under-tens, so might be deemed slight if I start mentioning highlights. And I can hardly pick any of those out, what's more – the whole thing was one long highlight from start to finish.
The story really brings Arthur's situation to light, and while not one everybody could completely empathise with, it will strike a note with a lot of the intended audience. He's great company as well. His world is slightly surreal when a polar bear gets added to it – perhaps too many people find instant acceptance of Mister P, even if he is (no spoilers here) more of a metaphor. If I were to pick the book up on anything, it would be that, and the fact that both characters such as the aforementioned Rosie and the playing of football suddenly land on us at the halfway stage, but I can't claim such things to be a fault. This is both a salutary lesson and a perfect entertainment for the target audience, and I sincerely hope that audience is a very large one. This book thoroughly deserves it.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The patience sometimes needed to find the best in everyone is also the subject of The Song from Somewhere Else by A F Harrold and Levi Pinfold.
You can read more book reviews or buy Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer and Daniel Rieley at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Me and Mister P by Maria Farrer and Daniel Rieley at Amazon.com.
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