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Me and Mister P ISBN: 9780192744210
Farrer, Maria and Rieley, Daniel
Published by Oxford University Press, 2017
Arthur has a problem, a very big problem called Liam, his autistic younger brother. Autism is never mentioned in the novel, but Liam has all the symptoms of being on a significant level of the spectrum. Arthur feels that it is Liam that gets all the attention in the family, and his needs are not being met in any way. This fact has managed to dent his self esteem, and he can only wish that his family were ‘ordinary’.
After an altercation with Liam and his mother, Arthur decides to run away, and grabbing a few important things, he leaves the house ‘forever’ – except in the process he comes across a very large polar bear on the doorstep! This seems so unlikely, that he has to find out what is going on. The bear seems rather friendly, and he has a suitcase with him with the words ‘Mister P’ written on it, and, furthermore, there is a label on the suitcase with Arthur’s family’s address. Stranger and stranger. At first he tries to hide the bear, but as Mister P is rather big, this doesn’t work long, and soon all the family are aware of their new guest. While they accept this, the parents are bemused, but Liam is (unusually for him) delighted. Mister P is soon a valued member of the household, although he does do some things that are not exactly helpful. He doesn’t talk, but he understands what is said to him. Arthur and he are great friends, and he goes to school on the bus, much to the pleasure of all the other kids who accept him right away. The fun soon starts, but as the various accidents and misunderstandings occur, it becomes apparent that not only Arthur, but Liam also loves the bear, and the bear is very good with him – patient and lovable always. This causes a bit of jealousy in Arthur, but he gradually learns that Liam has his strong points and that patience can work wonders with him. There’s lots about football in the story as both boys are addicted to it, and Mister P is particularly gifted in playing the game. At the end there is a sad time when Mister P must leave because he is needed elsewhere, and the boys feel bereft, but mum understands: he is needed ‘where only a polar bear will do’. She knows that Arthur and Liam have learned, through Mister P, to support each other now. This is a great story, full of humour and fun, as well as empathy and love. Big-ish print and lots of great black and white illustrations throughout make the 216 pages go quickly for those who have become good readers. Super!
Age: 7+