Me and You by Anthony Browne
|Me and You by Anthony Browne|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath|
|Summary: Buy it. Buy it now. It's the Goldilocks tale from a fresh perspective, but the more you dig, the more Me and You will reveal. It's an utterly gorgeous picture book that works on so so so many levels. Anthony Browne was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: May 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
You may be looking for the similarly-named Me and You by Janet A Holmes and Judith Rossell.
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Goldilocks... You know the rest. Me and You flips the classic fairy tale around, telling it from the three bears' point of view. Nice idea, non? It is, but calling it a retelling merely scratches the surface...
Me and You is the latest offering from Children's Laureate Anthony Browne. Yes, he of Bookbag's most favouritest bestest ever picture book Little Beauty. Me and You is utterly wonderful too. So, let's start at the beginning: as a straight up story of a little girl, bears, sunny walks and porridge, it ticks all the right boxes. Good solid picture book. Thumbs up.
Add to that the twist of seeing the familiar from a different angle. Every child who's old enough for Goldilocks will understand it. The core story is the same, but simply by putting yourself in the bears' shoes, the tone of the story is greatly changed. Giving in to the temptation to read too much into it, I'd say that it was a superb (and fully appropriate) first step on the path to critical thinking and evaluating sources. The twist isn't for parody's sake, it's for empathy's sake. It'll charm and inform children and adults alike. It'll challenge their perceptions as much as they're ready for them to be challenged. Thumbs up and gushing praise.
And then let's really look at the illustrations, and see how Me and You rises up to an even higher level. Browne's illustrations are gorgeous - that's a given - but it's what he does with them that's so magical. The bears have the usual sweetness of picture books and the text to match. Goldilocks' part is interspersed, and told in a wordless graphic novel style, predominantly monochrome, but with a few flashes of golden hair. The contrast emphasises the main story, but does so much more beside that. The bears live in a idealistic middle class cottage, full of sunshine and light. Goldilocks wanders the inner city streets, lost. She's not ostensibly impoverished, but there's definitely a general gloom in the air. Yes, Goldilocks is sad because she's chased after her balloon and lost her mum, but it's honestly not too far a leap from that to considering issues of isolation, social exclusion, the nuclear family, the class system, or - taking a nod from Browne's dedication - underdogs in general. And all in a picture book that's entirely appropriate for its young audience.
Thumbs up, gushing praise, exhortations for you to buy it, and profuse apologies for once again telling you more about why adults will like it than why children will, and probably scaring you off from getting it for your children to boot. It's highly highly recommended.
If you haven't already, do please read Little Beauty by Anthony Browne. Me and You hasn't quite toppled it from its perch, but it was very close. A Child's Garden: A Story Of Hope by Michael Foreman is another one of those picture books that has immense depth. For more looks at Goldilocks and chums, check out Previously by Allan Ahlberg and Not Last Night But The Night Before by Colin McNaughton and Emma Chichester-Clark.
Anthony Browne was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Me and You by Anthony Browne at Amazon.com.
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