Mostly Mary (A Mary Plain Adventure)

Mary Plain is an orphan bear living with her relatives at Berne Zoo in Switzerland. Her delightful adventures were first published in 1930 by Welsh author Gwynedd Rae, and the books were much loved by the family of author-illustrator Shirley Hughes, whose daughter Clara has illustrated this charming book.

The childlike Mary Plain is a stubborn, adventurous and inquisitive bear, who despite excellent attempts not to, falls naturally into troubles and scrapes which she does her best to escape from. She must sometimes rely on the help of visitors to the zoo or her own relatives, and Big Wool in particular is very strict!

From getting glued by fresh paint to a wooden plank whilst using it as a slide to finding out her full name, there’s an adventure in every chapter. Clara Vulliamy has spoken of her keen interest in the Mostly Mary stories and her delight in illustrating them, and her enthusiasm for her subject is well conveyed through her gorgeous black and white illustrations. Sprinkled through the pages are wonderful depictions of Mary Plain and her friends, with a vintage feel to the fashions that the humans in the book wear. The story is timeless and there’s a bit of Mary Plain in every child, but Vulliamy’s illustrations make it something really special.

This is a gorgeous treat for every child over the age of six, without being heavy on moral values or having a lesson – Mary Plain is naughty and punished – but that doesn’t stop her trying to circumvent her punishment and continue to have fun!