Mostly Mary / All Mary
Gwynedd Rae and Clara Vulliamy
Oh joy; two books I loved as a child, borrowing them frequently from the library, now reissued; and re-imagined by the wonderful Clara Vulliamy: I can think of no better person to bring fresh zest to these timeless beauties than Clara with her gently humorous touch.
For those who have yet to make the acquaintance of Mary, ( or Mary Plain, which she discovers is her full name early in the book), she’s an orphan bear cub, resident of Nursery Pit, Berne Zoo, who, in the first story is attempting to find her place in the pecking order of her extended family. She finds school lessons a bothersome experience and is much happier sallying forth with her friend, Sir Robin who provides some shrinking powder so that Mary can adjust her size and take a moonlit ride on his back and have a wonderful, rather crazy adventure.
Then there are the St Bruin’s Day celebrations when best behaviour is the order of the day, and Mary is in trouble, over a suitable gift before she’s even set out for the festivities.
Having re-read the ten episodes in the first volume they’ve lost none of their appeal: a spirited bundle of mischief, at once ursine-like and child-like, Mary is still a charmer.
Equally funny and fresh-seeming is Mary’s second set of adventures. It begins with Mary receiving an invitation to pay a visit to ‘the Lady in the Fancy Coat’ and having to consult – or more accurately ‘ask a private ask’ of her friend and designated chauffeur, Owl Man, on the meaning of luggage before they set off to the residence of Fancy-Coat-Lady.
What happens thereafter I won’t reveal; but rest assured it’s more than worth getting hold of a copy of the book and discovering for yourself. There’ll certainly be plenty of laughs provided by the trouble-prone young bear.
I do hope other titles from the series are to follow.