Guest Post – Learning To Live With A Polar Bear by Maria Farrer


Today I am over the moon to have the lovely Maria Farrer on Tales to celebrate the release of Me and Mister P which was released yesterday, 5th January 17, published by OUP!

Maria is the author of two brilliant YA novels and Me and Mister P sees Maria venture into the middle grade world of storytelling.

Packed with gorgeous illustrations throughout by Daniel Rieley, I hear this story has heart and humour in equal measure and is sure to be a hit with developing readers and as a great book to be read aloud.  I can’t wait to read it myself too!

Today Maria tells us exactly what its like to live and communicate with a polar bear in this wonderful guest post…..

I also have a fantastic giveaway so do check the bottom of the post!

About Me and Mister P

There are times when only a polar bear will do . . .

“All I want is a normal family but no, I’ve ended up with the brother from Weirdsville. Liam is so embarrassing, but Mum and Dad can’t see that and give him all the attention. Leaving me with zero! Zilch! A big fat NOTHING!
And I’m not really sure how an enormous, funny, clumsy polar bear is going to help with all this, but he was standing on the doorstep, so I had to invite him to stay, didn’t I? Well, what would you have done?”

Meet Arthur and his brand new friend, Mister P – the world’s most helpful polar bear!

Learning To Live With A Polar Bear

When a polar bear knocks on your door and then takes up residence in your home, you KNOW about it — it’s a size thing. And then, of course, bears can be mightily unpredictable — you have no idea what might happen next. It takes time to get used to having a bear around, especially a polar bear with attitude, a bear like MISTER P.

Illustration Daniel Rieley ‘Me and Mister P’ OUP 2017

Mister P first entered my life a year or so ago. Not exactly at my door, but fairly and squarely occupying a large section of my head. Of all the characters I have worked with, he is my complete and utter favourite. He has become like a best friend. I ask his advice, tell him my news, dance with him, sit with him, eat ice cream with him and dream with him. However, I would be lying if I said he’d been the easiest bear to have around.

I should, perhaps, have had a word with Paddington and Pooh before starting the story of Mister P. Michael Bond and A A Milne knew what they were doing when they made sure their bears could speak ‘human’. But when I first discussed the concept of Mister P with Oxford University Press, we decided that Mister P was to be 100%(ish) REAL BEAR — not toy, not pet and, not very domesticated and, above all, not chatterbox. He wasn’t to speak or think ‘human.

Fine, I could do that. Except … it turned out that when Mister P moved in with Arthur and his family, they couldn’t speak polar bear either — not a single word! STOPPPP!!! WAAAAAIT!!!!  A story where a bear moves in to somehow help solve a family’s problems and no-one can communicate?! How is that ever going to work?

I started researching how polar bears communicate with each other and then began studying, obsessively, the way in which my family interacted with our black Labrador. Like Mister P, he doesn’t speak ‘human’ and we don’t speak much ‘dog’ but, interestingly, we seem to understand each other quite effectively. When the dog wags his tail and grins he is telling us he is happy. When he puts his tail between his legs and hangs his head down low, he’s saying, “OK, I’m sorry, I know I’ve done something really bad”. In fact he’s developed all sorts of ways of letting us know precisely how he feels and just what he wants. And we react accordingly.

“I am simply the best looking dog in the world”

“No entry, this is MY castle!”

We talk to, and for, our dog all the time. In reality, of course, he has no idea what we’re saying and we have no idea what he’s thinking. We interpret his barks, his growls, his expressions. “Awww, are you feeling sad? Do you want a walk? Is your paw hurting? Of course you’re feeling sick you stupid dog, you’ve just eaten my best shoes.”

He, in turn, appears to understand our tone of voice, movements, and even mood. And non-verbal communication isn’t limited to communication between animals and humans. Human to human, we do it all the time too — usually without even realising it. We learn more about each other from body language, facial expression and voice than we do through the words that come out of our mouths. The smile is universal in any language, as are tears, horror, shock, boredom, aggression, anger, tiredness, wonder, grief, desperation. We can often convey more in a simple gesture or look, than we can in a hundred words. We know each other best when we use intuition and empathy.

I am pretty certain that polar bears don’t speak the same native language as Paddington bears, so I think that if Mister P spotted Paddington looking sad and lost in the park, Mister P would touch him on the shoulder, raise his eyebrows and maybe offer him a marmalade sandwich (if he happened to have one on him). Paddington would smile, Mister P would smile. Then they’d sit, side by side on a bench, and share a happy moment. Not a word would be spoken — and yet the world would somehow seem a better place.

“Bye, Mister P. Thanks for the sandwich!”

And that’s what I love most about Mister P. He has incredible intuition and empathy. He just ‘gets it’ even though he doesn’t speak a word of human. I’ve learned so much from living with Mister P and I’ve discovered that, for any one of us, there may be times when “only a polar bear will do”! Who knows, maybe the next person he visits may be YOU!

You can buy a copy of Me and Mister P here or from your local bookshop

About Maria Farrer

Maria Farrer writes for children and young adults. But most of all she loves adventures and quite likes being scared. 

She has four daughters and lives in Somerset with her husband and her black labrador. She trained as a speech and language therapist which has made her particularly interested in the way people (and bears!) communicate. 

Her dream is to go and visit polar bears in the wild and to learn more about these iconic, endangered creatures, their habitat and the struggle for survival in their disappearing world of sea ice.

You can find out more about Maria on her website –

Or follow Maria on twitter – @FarrerMaria

Maria is also on Facebook here


With thanks to the lovely people at OUP I have 5 copies of this wonderful book to giveaway to 5 lucky winners with some lovely signed bookmarks from the lovely Maria!

UK Only

Ends 13/01/2017

Please do check the terms and conditions on the rafflecopter giveaway before entering

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to the wonderful Maria for such a wonderful post!

Another huge big thank you to Hannah at OUP for organising and for being so super wonderful!

Have you read Me and Mister P?  What did you think?  What was your favourite part?  If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy?   I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!


Written by

I am often known to be a bit clumsy and a little loopy! Book loving (obsessed), theatre loving, slasher film loving csi geek! Winner of UKYABA Champion Newcomer 2015 and nominated for Champion of Social Media 2016 and Blogger Of The Year 2016! © 2014 - 2021 Michelle Toy All Rights Reserved

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6 Responses

  1. Lovely sounding book, and a really interesting post by Maria Ferrer. If I win a copy definitely one I’ll be sharing with my god daughter – She’s 6 and she loves reading so I’m doing all I can to encourage that. Her Christening gift from me was a selection of my favourite books from when I was little, like My Naughty Little Sister, and the Sophie books by Dick King Smith.

  2. I’d love a visit from Mister P. and I know lots of children would love him in my school Library!

  3. Jessie says:

    This book looks great. Communication is such an interesting and complex subject and it’s nice to see it being looked at in such an accessible way for kids. 🙂

  4. Margaret Gallagher says:

    Beautiful read for my nephew and myself

  5. Andrea Upton says:

    This looks like a lovely book, I think my children would love to read this

  6. Glenn Marvell-James says:

    Great giveaway, sounds like a wonderful book