Saturday, May 28, 2011

PBS #5: Me and You by Anthony Browne

One day, a girl came into our house, ate my porridge, broke my chair and fell asleep in my bed.  I wonder who she was?

This is a thoughtful retelling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story.

It left me with a sense of peculiar sadness and I'm not sure why.  Actually, I think I know.  I think it's because of the artwork - it has a peculiar quality to it.  Unlike most picture books where the artwork truly invites you in with vibrant colours and over the top drawings, Me and You has made use of subtler tones.

On the one hand we have the pages illustrating the young girl leaving her home with her mum.  The artwork is quiet, grey, dull.  She's dressed in a hoodie and the area does not look very nice.

Contrasted wildly with the greyness of the young girl's world, we have the home of the bears.  A wonderfully large home, far brighter and more interesting.  There is also a cohesion in the family in that it has a mum, dad and boy bear - a family unit.  They go out and do things together.

The girl spots a balloon whilst she's standing in front of a shop window with her mum and she runs off to catch it.  She doesn't pay attention where it's going and before she knows it, she's lost and the balloon is entirely out of her reach.

She wanders around and finds the wonderfully large and beautiful home of the bears.  She does exactly what Goldilocks is meant to do - basically invades their home and privacy and eventually falls asleep in the bear junior's bed.  The bears return home after a lovely stroll out and discover their house broken in to.  They sneak around and find the girl asleep.  They confront her and she runs away.

Soon the artwork changes again to reflect the greyness of the girl's surroundings and as she flees the bears and their neighbourhood, she runs deeper into the darkness.  But it ends well, with a great blast of colour.

I think that this one is by far the most subtle picture book I've read in ages.  I think young folk would like it for the obvious Goldilocks story but I think slightly older, more advanced readers, would notice the contrast between the girl's drab life and that of the bears and it will make them wonder.

It's a beautiful book but it's definitely one that makes me feel melancholy.

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