Friday, June 22, 2012

Marco Moves In (A Rather Remarkable Grizzly Bear)

written by Gerry Boland
illustrated by Anne McGuinness
O'Brien Press, Dublin | February 10, 2012

This first in a series (there are two more - Marco Master of Disguise (May 2012) and Marco Moonwalker (August 2012)) is a delightful tale of a talking, zoo-escapee grizzly bear who knocks on Patrick's door one night. In his walk from the zoo to Patrick's "not a single person noticed him. [Patrick] suppose[d] it helped that it was night, and that he was wearing a big black duffle coat with an enormous hood that covered his hairy head."

Patrick's mum, who is obsessed with her trombone playing and often forgets to feed him dinner is so distracted, she isn't even aware a bear is visiting. Each visitor to the house is fooled by Marco pretending to be something else - a stuffed-bear hat stand, a coffee table, a bear-skin rug - even the police looking specifically for an escaped grizzly bear from the zoo don't catch on.

Patrick offers Marco the shed out back behind the house, and this volume ends with Marco deciding to stay a while, saying, "I'll stay so. I could do with a nice long rest. And a bit of company." And Patrick concurs, saying "Me, too."

I can't wait to see the other two books. Marco is endearing, Patrick is matter-of-fact, the illustrations are simple and pleasing, the design is great, and the text is perfect for early readers or read aloud to younger kids. It is shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Children's Award and there's a silly interview with Marco on the publishing house's website. You can see it here.

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