I have been wanting to read British author Anthony Browne's Me and You ever since I heard about it on the blogosphere when it was first published last year. However, inexplicably, it took our library a really long time to acquire it.
It was worth the wait.
Browne retells Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale from both the point of view of Goldilocks and the Bears. On the left of each two page spread we see the sepia-toned urban world of Goldilocks, while on the right is the the sunny world of the Bears. The narration is confined to the Bears, who have a single illustration in each spread, while Goldilocks' adventure is told with multiple small images. It might seem that this duality is meant to highlight a urban/rural dichotomy, with a predictable, colorless urban blight contrasted with the bright, cheerful natural world.
But that is only a superficial reading. There are many interesting and subtle details to be found, which add layer upon layer to the story. Look closely and you might notice the bears' home is more suburban than rural, and it's a bit too neat and tidy, with trees manicured to within a inch of their lives. the youngest bear peers out of the window at the beginning and end of the story. It's interesting to imagine what he is looking at, or for. Neither is the treeless city all that it first appears. The animated, glowing gold locks of the heroine hint at life below a gritty urban surface. It's a life which we see fully manifested by the end of the story.
Browne's book is a layered, moving tale about family life and will only improve upon each retelling. One of my favorites.
See the illustrator's studio in this article in The Guardian.
Read a lovely review at My Favourite Books.
Read an interview with the author.
Read about the author at the publisher's website.
Little Kid says: Bear story, again! Again!
Big Kid says: Look at her hair!