Sunday, 26 September 2021

The Panda, The Cat and The Dreadful Teddy by Paul Magrs, review by Shirley-Anne McMillan

I have loved Paul Magrs's writing for years now. He is one of those rare authors who is just great at covering a range of genres- YA, magical realism, crime fiction, sci-fi... So it shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone that he has turned his hand to what poet Gerry Potter calls inspirational positivia. Well, sort of. Not really.

The Panda, The Cat and the Dreadful Teddy is a hilarious take on those kinds of books. The adorable figures of Panda, Cat and Teddy stand for us in Pandemic Times, listening to the trite phrases that are meant to make us feel great about ourselves and honestly reflecting that actually they’re just making us feel worse. And quite pissed off, really.

As part of my job I curate a ‘Thought For The Day’ for a local school and so I spend a lot of time looking at ‘inspirational’ memes and websites searching for something meaningful among the ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ type phrases which make me want to scream. The Panda, The Cat and the Dreadful Teddy is the antidote to this kind of thing. It’s more ‘Live, laugh, love and swear your head off if it all gets too much.’

One of the things I really love about it is that it isn’t completely cynical. Teddy, the little bear who just wants everyone to be happy, is so relatable that even as we’re laughing at sweary Panda’s responses we’re also on Teddy’s side too- he’s really cute and we like him, and we suspect that perhaps Panda actually likes him too really. I mean, they’re always together, and Panda hasn’t killed him, yet...

Paul’s drawings are wonderful (it was so hard to pick a few out of the book to post here) and the juxtaposition of the lovely little characters with Panda’s perma-rage had me laughing out loud several times. He does give some good advice too. I feel like the combination of the three characters are the perfect contemporary therapist- telling it like it is, reflecting pandemic rage, and sometimes encouraging you to just wise up.

The Panda, The Cat and the Dreadful Teddy is out on the 30th September and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Check out Paul's Twitter account for more. 


Rowena House said...

A book for our times indeed! Thank you for the steer. One for Christmas stockings: a bit of honest good cheer.

LuWrites said...

The Panda, The Cat ad the Dreadful Teddy kept me going through the pandemic via Paul's instagram feed so I preordered a copy - reckon a few more on order for Christmas presents is a great idea!