My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The board book is an odd beast and one that it’s very easy to get wrong. They’re books that revel less in the text and more in the experience; of the pushing, the pulling, the chewing and the tasting. Board books are the books that teach you what reading is; that it happens in the crook of your mother’s arms, or at bedtime, and they teach you that this experience is good and that it is fun. They are the guidelines of the bookish world, robust and stubbornly built things that teach little ones about the world around them whilst also surviving that phase of interaction with said little one.
I love Max’s Bear; part of the Max series by Barbro Lindgren. I’ve reviewed Max’s Wagon beforehand, and Max’s Bear is a similarly glorious thing. So is Max’s Bath, by the way, and I would happily recommend a set of these being purchased as an early reading present. They are classy, classy books; rich too, in that quiet and subtle way, and a genuine delight. Sometimes board books can border on the edge of impracticality; clever paper folds and tricks that won’t last a moment, or garish and poorly constructed storytelling that’s done with very little skill. These books are lovely, lovely things.
Max’s Bear is a simple, clean story that is well told. Each double page has text on the left; a sentence on a simple white page (the longest in the book is six words), accompanied by a dreamy image on the right hand side. As ever with good picture books, the images give so, so much to long and leisurely investigation.
At the start of the book, Max is asleep. Upon being woken by his dog, Max produces his bear and starts to play with it. Underneath his bed, Max’s dog starts to chew on shoes in a contented distraction. The dog climbs into Max’s bed. Max throws the bear up in the air, and it lands in his potty. The dog realises that something’s gone wrong, gets off the bed and rescues the bear before bringing him back to Max. Happiness is restored.
It is lovely.