The Adventures of Mary Plain

Mary Plain, the bear cub and star of Gwynedd Rae’s long-running series of stories, much loved in the 1930’s through to the 1960’s but since largely forgotten, returns – illustrated by me!

I have loved Mary Plain since I was very young, and I’ve longed to illustrate her stories all this time too, ever since I could first properly hold a pencil. The books were read to me by my mother, whose own mother read them to her, and I in turn have read them to my children. Iconic Mary-isms have entered our family language. We plan ‘svisits’ instead of visits, and we write notes to each other in the style of Mary’s picture writing. When uncertain, sad or homesick, we find Mary’s wobbly words ‘Do you think the twins are happy without me?’ say it better than anything else could.

Gwynedd Rae’s creation is an orphan bear cub from the bear pits of Berne Zoo. Mary is both bear-like and child-like, a perfect combination, an enormous personality all wrapped up in a small, pointy-eared, browny-grey furry package. She can be willful and impossible, with an unsquashable ego and an insatiable appetite. But she is also funny, irrepressibly optimistic and utterly endearing.

There has been a Mary-shaped gap in the cast list of classic bears in children’s books for far too long. She doesn’t need any help to introduce herself, so, in her own words…

‘I am Mary Plain, an unusual first-class bear with a white rosette and a gold medal with a picture of myself on it.’

All Mary (Adventures of Mary Plain)
Egmont 9 Feb 2017

Mostly Mary (Adventures of Mary Plain)
Egmont 9 Feb 2017

Mary in London (Adventures of Mary Plain)
Egmont 5 Oct 2017

Mary in America (Adventures of Mary Plain)
Egmont 5 Oct 2017

‘Clara Vulliamy’s joyous fuzzy-furred pictures are a perfect match for these down-to-earth tales’ 

The Guardian