Arthur Mallows longs to have an ordinary family and experience an ordinary day with an ordinary brother because the pressures of living with a brother who is anything but ordinary are really getting to him. So when an uninvited guest turns up on his doorstep, a polar bear no less, his problems may have got a whole lot worse. However, from the moment Mister P (the polar bear) arrives, he and Arthur become best friends and the other problems in Arthur’s life become just a little more manageable.

Mr P accompanies Arthur to school and even attends his football tournament. Arthur soon discovers that he is instinctively able to help his teachers and friends, adjust to having a polar bear around because of the skills he has developed looking after his brother. You need to learn to be flexible, help them feel safe and avoid loud noises at all costs!

Mr P, it appears, is an incredibly useful polar bear. He's great at sorting out problems and he gives the best bear hugs - although sometimes he can squeeze too tight and his fur is tickly! He helps Arthur to build a relationship with his brother and even take on the class bully, two things Arthur never thought would be possible. Hooray for Mister P!

This is a beautifully written story about brotherly love, sacrifice and the power of a polar bear to provide insight and patience. It is a well balanced book, containing both humour and thought provoking moments. The perfect guided reading book for KS2 classes and highly recommended to young carers or siblings struggling to coping with the responsibility of supporting a family member with additional needs. I’d award it a gold star and a tin of sardines!

If you’d like to use this book as a guided reading text, here are a few questions/ activities to get you going…

  1. Discuss the members of the Mallory family. What might be different about Liam, Arthur’s brother? Why is Arthur finding it difficult to cope with a brother who is different and how do we know?
  2. Arthur keeps a secret journal that he hides in his room. Write a journal entry for Arthur, detailing a particularly difficult day.
  3. Discuss some of the difficulties children can experience as they make sacrifices for siblings who have disabilities. Contrast this with the positive things Arthur discovers through the book.
  4. Arthur is frustrated by his family, but deep down he really does care about them. How does he show this?
  5. Discuss how you would react to a polar bear arriving in your street. What would you do to befriend them?
  6. Discuss how you would make a polar bear feel welcome in your home. Where would they sleep and what would you give them to eat?
  7. How would you persuade your parents to let a polar bear stay in your home? What would you trade (jobs and chores) to show your commitment?
  8. Research polar bears, their physical attributes, habits, diets and the effects of climate change on their continued survival. The book ‘The Polar Bear’ by Jenni Desmond comes highly recommended from the NSTBA for learning more about polar bears.

Me and Mister P by  Maria Farrer, illustrated by Daniel Rieley

Oxford University Press   ISBN: 978-0192744210