I have just discovered the Bear and Mouse series by the wonderful Bonnie Becker, and the question is, where have they been all my life? Ms Becker has a shrewd understanding of the human condition, and depicts these foibles beautifully through her eponymous characters. Bear is a gruff sort of creature, solitary and abrasive. He gets a bit Shakespearean when irked, bellowing “Begone!” and “I AM UNDONE” when Mouse doggedly seeks out his company. Finally though, through determination and perseverance, Mouse wins him over, and finds that beneath this crabbed exterior, Bear is as soft as a lightly whipped mousse. We all need a Mouse in our lives.
(The stories actually reminded me of LSB and I when we were dating. I was a tough nut to craic, but he hung in there, and God love him, he’s still here. I actually read him The Sniffles For Bear the other night and he enquired “Did you actually write this?” I wish. He thought my likeness to Bear was uncanny.)
It was a lovely friend who introduced me to this glorious duo. She had brought her two boys round for dinner and my youngest, to whom we refer as Father Jack because of her less than sunny disposition, was in a right old strop. Susan tried some light cajoling to dispel the gloom, but it didn’t go down at all well. Hmmm, she sighed, “To quote Bear, I clearly do not appreciate the gravity of the situation.” I knew right away that these books would be right up my street, and Susan kindly lent me her collection.
So yesterday I sought them out in Waterstones, and shock horror, they are soon to be out of print! Why is it always the good ones? So I urge you, get on to e-bay or Amazon and bag yourselves a copy before it is too late. In fact, buy several copies and there’s the rest of the year sorted for kids’ birthday presents if you’re doing the circuit at the moment, as am I. Stem the tidal wave of tat and buy a Bonnie Becker. Less plastic shit and more quality stuff. And this, dear friends, is pure quality.