Max Bear


Max and the Museum

posted 26 Nov 2017, 16:33 by Fran Brady   [ updated 26 Nov 2017, 16:46 ]

‘Is it McDonald’s?’ asked Aliida.

‘No’, said Grandma Frances.

‘Mannafields?’

‘No, silly. That’s the name of your school and we’ve just left there. Think again. We’re going somewhere that Max Bear has never been before.’

‘What about lunch? I’m hungry,’ said Aliida.

‘We can get lunch there.’

‘So, it IS a restaurant. I knew it! Are you sure it’s not McDonald’s?’

‘Positive. There is a restaurant there but so much more; so much to do and see.’

 Aliida screwed up her face and thought very hard. ‘What do you think?’ she asked Max, who was sitting quietly on the back seat beside her schoolbag and coat. But he was no help. No help at all. He just kept on looking out the window and humming a song he had recently heard, called ‘I just want to be your teddy bear’. He liked that song a lot.

 ‘Come on,’ said GF. ‘We’re almost there. It begins with M.’

‘Marks and Spencer’s? Monkey Face? Mince and Tatties?’

‘Now, you’re really being silly. You’re not going to get it. It’s …’

‘I know. The Moon!’

GF roared with laughter as she drew the car into a parking place. ‘Look behind you.’

 Aliida jumped out of the car and spun round. Of course. The Museum! The wonderful Museum of Scotland, full of interesting things to see and exciting things to touch and do.

‘Brilliant! Come on, Max!’


Max had never been in such a huge building. Looking up into the roof made him feel dizzy.

He held on very tightly to Aliida and closed his eyes as she carried him up a stair.

When he opened them again, he was glad to see that they were in a café. He knew cafés: you got nice food in them. He sat down with his back to the balcony rail and pretended that the long drop behind it wasn’t there.

Just as they were finishing their lunch, there came the sound of a clock starting up, getting ready to strike two. 

‘Come on!’ Aliida jumped up, grabbing Max quite roughly, and they all galloped down the stairs, GF puffing along behind carrying coats, scarves and bags. ‘What a fuss over a blooming clock,’ thought Max.

  But then he saw it! 

A fabulous clock, so tall that Max had to lean over backwards to try and see the top.

He leaned and he leaned; he still couldn’t quite see … Oops! He had done a backward somersault!

 Somersaulting always made him giggle. ‘Sshh,’ hissed Aliida. ‘Look.’ 

Max looked and immediately stopped giggling. You can’t really giggle when your mouth is wide open and your eyes are popping, can you?

Inside the clock, on many levels, were lots of tiny figures. They began to move: first one level; then the next; then the one above; and so on, until even the ones at the very top were joining in and the whole clock was alive. As they moved, they stuck with tiny hammers and other tools, creating beautiful, delicate sounds.  It was enchanting.

‘Close your mouth, Max,’ said Aliida. ‘You’ll catch a fly in it.’ Max hadn’t realised that his mouth was still hanging open. He hastily shut it and flicked his tongue over his teeth to check for flies. Phew! There were none. 

Next, they went to the transport section and saw so many trains, cars and planes that Max couldn’t take it all in. ‘I’m tired,’ he said, pulling at Aliida’s sleeve. ‘Me too,’ she said. 

GF took them into a quiet children’s place where there were comfy cushions in tents with books to read. 

So, they had a nice little rest.

 Time was getting on and soon they would have to leave.

‘One more place,’ said GF. ‘What’s it to be?’

Space,’ said Aliida, firmly. ‘I want to be an astronaut. Don’t you, Max?’ 

Yes, please,’ he replied. 

Of course, he had no idea what an astronaut was. But he soon learnt!

He couldn’t wait to tell Monty about it.  Next time Monty started ordering him about like a Sergeant Major, Max would just remind him that he was an astro … astro … a spaceman!   

 

Max and the Birthday Treat

posted 16 Oct 2017, 04:27 by Fran Brady   [ updated 16 Oct 2017, 04:28 ]

Max and Aliida were excited. In two days’ time, it was going to be Aliida’s birthday. She would be SEVEN!!
All sorts of exciting things might happen and Max hoped he was going to be included in them all. But today was the day that Grandma Frances was coming to take Aliida out to buy her birthday present. Max felt sure he would be included in this treat. 

He had a good wash and brushed his fur till it was shiny.                 

He put on his best black shorts and his favourite checked shirt.

 Katie Price, the cat, watched him doing all this. She was sitting up on bed-above, licking her paws and washing behind her ears. Her long, fluffy tail twitched. It always did that before she said something nasty to Max. ‘Yoo -iauow needn’t bother.’ She purred and her pink tongue licked her paw. ‘Yoo-iauow can forget it. She’s going to take Soldier.’

 

Max ignored her. That couldn’t be true, he thought. He was Number One Bear. He carried on sprucing himself up ready for the big outing. He was sure they would go to the Build-a-Bear Shop, he would see some of his old friends, Aliida would choose some new clothes or toys for him and he would once again be the envy of all the sad bears waiting to be chosen and taken home.

 Just before GF was due to arrive, Aliida came into the bedroom. Max stood up tall and waited for her to notice how smart he was looking today. She would be proud to take him out with GF to get her birthday present – which Max was sure would really be something for him!

Then shock, horror! Aliida walked past him and went into the dark corner of the bedroom where there was an untidy pile of heaped-up toys. Sticking out from the pile was the leg and arm of Soldier Bear. Max and Soldier had had a row the day before because Soldier had been marching up and down, swinging his arms, and he had marched right over Max who had been stretched out on the floor, practising his swimming strokes. 


Just as Max’s arms had flailed out, Soldier had tramped heavily on one of them, yelling ‘Left! Right! Left! Right!’.   Max had sprung up, yowling with the pain in his tramped-on paw.    

 ‘I’m sick of you and your stupid soldiering,’ he had yelled.              

‘It’s not stupid. How dare you?’

‘Yes, it is!’

‘No, it isn’t!’

The two bears had growled at each other and Max had given Soldier an almighty push. Soldier had landed in the corner, up against a pile of toys which had teetered and then collapsed on top of him. And that was where he had been lying since yesterday, unable to wriggle out from under the heap.

Aliida bent down and pulled at Soldier’s leg. At first, nothing happened. Then suddenly, it was jerked out of the heap, followed by Soldier’s body, arms and, last of all, his head. The pile of toys shuddered and began to topple. Aliida whisked Soldier away quickly and they just missed being covered in falling toys: dolls, Lego bricks, little cars and houses, dress-ups clothes, books and even bits of jigsaw. What a mess! Max had to jump out of the way too.

 Aliida kicked and pushed all the stuff back into the corner. ‘Now, Soldier, she said. ‘I hope you are feeling like an outing. It’s time you had some clothes. Winter is coming and you will be cold in just your camouflage covering. We’re going out with Grandma Frances today. We’ll get you a nice new outfit.’ She carried Soldier out of the bedroom, leaving Max sitting on the floor. He couldn’t believe his ears!

 He sat sadly on the floor for quite a long time, feeling very sorry for himself and very jealous of Soldier. He heard GF arriving and he heard the three of them going out shortly afterwards. Katy Price jumped down from bed-above, stalked past him and pushed open the bedroom door with her paw. ‘I told you, bearrrr,’ she purred. ‘Told you so, bearrrrrr!’

 The time dragged by but at last he heard them coming back. Aliida came bounding into the bedroom. ‘Look, Max,’ she cried. ‘Look what we got for Soldier. Doesn’t he look handsome? Almost as handsome as you!’

 And there was Soldier, looking terrific in super new trousers, zippy jacket and . . . was that roller skates? Max’s eyes almost fell

out of his head. He and Soldier had been good friends until they had fallen out yesterday and they had often talked about how much they would like to have roller skates. They had promised each other that the next thing they would ask Aliida for, from Build-a-Bear, would be roller skates. They had also promised each other that, if one of them got a pair of skates, he would share them, turn and turnabout, with the other.

 ‘Aliida,’ called Daddy. ‘Come and say goodbye and thank you again to Grandma Frances.’

She went out of the bedroom, leaving the two bears eyeing each other.

 ‘Do you like my new outfit?’ said Soldier, warily.

‘Yes, it’s brilliant,’ said Max, warily.

‘I got the roller skates.’ Soldier was grinning now.

‘I see that.’ Max grinned too. ‘I’m sorry I pushed you under all those toys and left you there.’

‘And I’m sorry I tramped on your paw. I promise I’ll be more careful where I march from now on,’ said Soldier.

‘That’s OK, then. Friends?’ said Max.

‘Friends,’ agreed Soldier. Do you want a shot of my skates?’

‘Yes, please!’ said Max. ‘Come on. Let’s skate together.’

 When Aliida came back into the bedroom, she found the two of them rolling on the floor, laughing their heads off, each wearing one roller skate.

 

Max Goes on Holiday

posted 1 Aug 2017, 10:06 by Fran Brady

Max and Aliida were busy packing for their summer holiday with Grandma Frances. Aliida was taking ages, not able to decide what to put in Big Black Bag (BBB). Max was more interested in which of his friends to take with him. Little Charlie was always hard to resist. He had such a sweet, appealing face.

‘I won’t take up hardly any room in the bag. I can scrunch myself up really small. Look!’ said Charlie. ‘And I will cry if you don’t take me,’ he added, putting on a very sad face.

‘Oh, dear,’ said Max. ‘How can I say no?’

‘You can’t, said Charlie and hopped into a corner of BBB.

The other toys all clamoured to go as well but Aliida put her foot down. ‘One more,’ she said firmly. ’Just one more, Max, or else I won’t be able to zip BBB up.

It took him ages to decide and Aliida was threatening to close BBB without any more of Max’s friends in it. In a rush, he gave in to the loudest voice: Soldier, who was stamping his feet, swinging his arms and yelling: ‘Left, right, left right!’ Stamp, stamp. ‘Permission to board BBB, Sir?’ Stamp, stamp. 

So, in went Soldier. Charlie cowered in his corner of BBB. He was quite scared of Soldier with his loud voice, stamping feet and swinging arms. Once, Soldier had swung his arms so high that he had knocked Charlie right off the windowsill where he liked to sit and watch street people going by.

Then, they were off! Through the busy streets of the city, on to the bypass with so many fast, fast cars and lorries. Charlie and Aliida sat in the front of the car beside Daddy. They played the ‘I Packed my Suitcase’ game and they had got to the letter T by the time the car left the motorway and was driving along a pretty, leafy road towards GF’s house. Aliida packed a teddy-bear and Charlie packed a tomato.

 

‘Here we are,’ said Daddy. The car turned into a steep, downward lane. At the bottom was a very pretty house with a red door. There were lots of people there, outside in the garden. It was a party! With a barbecue, a special cake . . .                                              
 and TWO dogs!! 

They were called Charlie and Tucker

Charlie! There was a DOG called Charlie! Max decided he wouldn’t tell Charlie Bear. It was just as well he was still tucked up in BBB and couldn’t see. Truth to tell, Max was a bit frightened of the dogs at first but Aliida showed him how to pat them gently on their backs and speak softly to them. Soon Max Bear and Charlie Dog were good friends. Tucker was an old dog and he spent most of the afternoon sleeping but Max and Charlie played happily on the big lawn chasing balls and sometimes even chasing each other.

The best bit of all was when everyone left at the end, even Archie, but . . . Aliida stayed! 
She took BBB into the spare bedroom and unpacked Charlie Bear and Soldier. 
GF brought Suzy Squirrel through to meet them and all five of them stayed up late chatting and laughing until GF said, sternly, ‘No more noise. It’s time for sleeping.’  

Next day was sunny so they had A PICNIC in the garden. Brilliant fun!


Aliida, Max, Charlie and Soldier stayed at GF’s house for three whole days. They went shopping and swimming. They went to the cinema – twice! 
They even went to the zoo. There they saw meercats and otters and lions and monkeys and snakes - and rabbits, too! Aliida loved petting the rabbits. Max felt jealous.

BUT they didn’t see any bears! There was a big sign saying ‘BEARS’ But there was actually NO sign of them! Aliida had to make do with climbing on the huge bear statue. Max squealed in terror when he saw that statue. What kind of bear grows that big?

Aliida explained that it wasn’t a real bear and it couldn’t move or speak or laugh or cry – none of the things that Max and Charlie and Soldier and Suzy could do. 

‘Phew!’ said Max. ‘Thank goodness for that. Can we go and get some lunch now?”

‘All he thinks about is eating,’ said Aliida.

‘Really,’ said GF. ‘I think I know a little girl a bit like that. I wonder who that could be?’

 

 


Max and The Secret

posted 24 Jun 2017, 09:23 by Fran Brady   [ updated 24 Jun 2017, 09:51 ]

Where was Grandma Frances? She should have been here ages ago.

 

Max was fed up waiting. He had been stuck in a corner of the classroom all morning, being as good as gold, because that was what Aliida had told him to be. Though what was good about gold, he had no idea. From time to time, during the long, boring morning, Aliida had looked over at him and grinned or winked or smiled. 
These grins and winks and smiles had kept him going. Without them, he would probably have started to fidget or wriggle. Once, he almost fell asleep and would have dropped to the floor if he had not woken himself up with a snorty snore. All the boys and girls had stared at him and some had begun to snigger. Max was mortified. After that, he kept himself from fidgeting, wriggling or falling asleep by singing a song to himself inside his head.  It was ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’. His favourite. Max wished Aliida would take him out of the stuffy, boring classroom and go ‘down in the woods’. Today!

At last, morning school was over and all the boys and girls got ready to leave. Lots of mummies and daddies were waiting to take them home. Soon, only Aliida and Max were left. ‘We’re waiting for GF,’ she told Max. ‘She is coming to take us out for the afternoon.’

 ‘Can we go on a picnic?’ asked Max. ‘Down in the woods with all the other teddy bears?’

 But Aliida did not know what GF was planning to do. They just had to wait for her to arrive.



Aliida passed the time drawing pictures of Archie, her daddy, and Tanya, her momma, who was no longer with them. 
Aliida missed Momma and it helped her to feel less sad when she drew pictures of her. 

Aliida hugged Max very hard and that helped too. 

Max understood that, even though he was practically suffocated! 


Then suddenly, GF was there! Rushing into the classroom, crying ‘sorry, sorry, sorry’ because she was so late. But they didn’t care about that now; they were just so pleased to see her. She gathered them both into a big hug. ‘Now, let’s go!’ she said. ‘It’s picnic time!’

They were going to the woods to have a teddy bear’s picnic. Hurrah! Max couldn’t get into GF’s little blue car fast enough. They drove through lots of busy streets. Max saw buses, cars, bicycles, traffic lights, shops, mummies pushing baby-buggies, old people walking with sticks, and dogs on leads. They drove on and on . . . but still no sign of the woods.  At last they stopped in a big car park. ‘Come on!’ cried GF. ‘Time for our secret picnic!’

Aliida got out of the car with Max in her arms. ‘I don’t see any picnic place,’ she said. ‘I don’t see . . .  Oh! Yes! Yes, yes, yes!’ 

She was squealing with excitement. 

‘Can we go there? Please, Grandma Frances? Please, please, please!’ 

She was pointing to two golden arches and hopping up and down.

 GF put a finger to her lips. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘But it must be our secret.’


They found a picnic tae outside the shop with the golden arches. Max was given the very important job of guarding it while Aliida and GF went into the shop and bought the picnic. He tried to look as fierce and important as possible to scare off anyone who might think about coming over and taking their table. Soon, Aliida and GF appeared carrying a tray piled with little boxes and bags. There was a delicious smell coming from these and Max suddenly felt very hungry. Ravenous, in fact!


The three of them sat round the picnic table in the sun and shared out all the food. There were chicken nuggets, chips, tomato sauce and lovely fizzy juice drinks. They were all hungry so the food disappeared fast. 

Aliida ate the fastest because she wanted to go to play with some other children in the play hut nearby. ‘Shall we let her, Max?” asked GF. ‘Are you happy to stay here with me?’

The play hut was close by and they could see it while they finished their picnic. So, Max said that would be OK.


 ‘Do you like our picnic, Max?’ asked GF.

‘It’s lovely,’ said Max. ‘Very yummy. But . . .’ 

‘Yes?’

‘Where are all the other teddy bears? And why didn’t we go down in the woods?’

‘You’ve been singing the song.’ GF smiled and began: ’If you go down in the woods today, You’re sure of a big surprise.’ Max joined in. Aliida heard them and waved from the top of the play hut where she had climbed. It was all very jolly and Max decided he liked the golden arches picnic just as much as the one in the song.

Later, when they were back in the car, driving home, Max whispered to Aliida: ‘Why is the picnic at the golden arches a secret?”

‘Daddy says it isn’t healthy food,’ she replied. ‘He doesn’t take me there ever, even if I beg and beg.’

Healthy was good – very good. But Max thought that it was also good that they had GF to take them out for picnics sometimes. He is looking forward to the next one.

Max and the White Cape

posted 12 May 2017, 12:31 by Fran Brady

Max enjoyed seeing the photos of the wedding, especially those of Aliida in her beautiful dress and cape. 

That cape! Max didn’t think he had ever seen anything so lovely. He made Aliida put it on, hold him in her arms, and twirl and twirl until they were both dizzy and fell down laughing. He had lots of dreams about the cape: in one of them, he and Aliida were sitting on it, flying through the air. 

 

Katie Price was very jealous of the cape fun that he and Aliida were having. Once, Aliida left the cape lying on a chair and KP pulled it down with her claws on to the floor. Then she curled up on it and refused to move. Aliida and Max tried to push her off but she wouldn’t budge. They tried lifting up the corners and shaking the cape but KP just stared scornfully at them without blinking. 

‘Yoo-oiaw two-oiaw can’t make me,’ she miaowed.

 Aliida became upset. In fact, she became VERY upset. Her bottom lip trembled and her eyes looked like she might cry. And Max was not having that. Not his beloved mistress. Not over that pesky cat. He slipped out of the bedroom when KP wasn’t looking and went to find Archie, Aliida’s daddy. ‘Cat on cape!’ he told Archie.

‘Mmmm . . ?’ said Archie without looking up from his laptop. 

He had a big job to do for his college course and was working hard at it.

‘CAT ON CAPE,’ said Max as loudly as he could. But Archie didn’t stop typing and peering at the screen. Max thought hard. Humans beings think a lot about things being clean; he had noticed that. Always washing and wiping, soaping and scrubbing. ‘DIRTY, SMELLY CAT ON NICE, CLEAN WEDDING CAPE.’ He pronounced each word very clearly. He even tugged at Archie’s sleeve, causing him to type a lot of wrong letters. That got his attention!

‘What is it, Max Bear?’ he said. ‘What . . ? Did you say the cat is on Allida’s wedding cape?’

At last! Max nodded hard and pulled some more on Archie’s sleeve.

In three strides, Archie was in Aliida’s bedroom. Before KP had time to realise what was happening, he grabbed both ends of the cape and gave it an almighty shake. And with an almighty shriek, KP bounded through the air and landed with an almighty thump in the corner among a pile of books and toys. She wriggled and scrabbled, trying to get a foothold. The more she wriggled and scrabbled, the more the toys and books shifted about. Suddenly, the pile collapsed with KP in the middle. For a moment, she disappeared, only frantic miaows letting them know she was still in the pile.  

 Archie had gone back to his laptop and Max was enjoying this. Let the horrid cat stay under the heap, for all he cared. But then, he saw that Aliida was upset all over again. ‘That’s Momma’s cat,’ she said. ‘Momma wouldn’t want her to get hurt. Come on, Max. Help me to get her out.’

 It was asking a lot. But Max loved Aliida so, with a big sigh, he agreed. Gingerly, they moved some of the toys and books from the edges of the collapsed heap, one at a time, in case they made it worse and buried KP even deeper. After a few moments, the twitching nose of KP could be seen. Then . . . 

‘Look out!’ yelled Max as the heap erupted and out sprang a very angry cat, spitting and hissing. Aliida just got out the way in time. KP gave an earsplitting ‘Meeeiaow!’ and, with one enormous leap, shot out the door into Hall and disappeared into one of her hiding places where she stayed for several hours.

 ‘We won,’ Max told Aliida, grinning.  

 Aliida shook her head. ‘But we hurt Katie Price,’ she replied. ‘That wasn’t nice of us. She is an animal and we are supposed to be kind to animals. ALL animals.’

 ‘Even KP?’

 ‘Yes, especially KP. Because she is our cat now and we are meant to take care of her. Imagine if I had done that to you, when you were sitting on the cape! Or to Suzie Squirrel.’

 Holy Koala! What a terrible thought. That night Max had another cape dream . . .  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max is left behind . . .

posted 10 Apr 2017, 16:10 by Fran Brady


Max had thought a lot about beautiful Suzie Squirrel since he had met her in Grandma Frances’ car. They had gone for a lovely drive along the road beside the sea, close to where Aliida lived. Suzie had remained sitting on the back of the seat looking out the rear window. Max thought she had the loveliest profile, even lovelier than Penelope Bear who was the last animal he had fallen in love with. He had cried for a whole day when Penelope had been taken away from Bear Shop by her new owners, even though he was glad for her.

Truth to tell, Max was rather good at falling in love. Penelope had been the fifth girl-bear he had taken a fancy to in Bear Shop. Of course, he loved Aliida but she was his mummy. He would always love her forever and ever. Even though, one day, she might have to go away and leave him, he would still love her. That’s how it is with bears and mummies. 

But girlfriends were another matter: Max could fall in and out of love with them at the drop of a hat.

‘She is gorgeous,’ he told Katy Price. ‘I have never seen a more gorgeous animal.’

 KP blinked sleepily at him and twitched her whiskers, the way cats do. ‘Yoooo,’ she miaowed, ‘Yooo don’t know anything about gorgeousness. Yooo are only a bear. A bear of very little brain.’ She stood up, arched her back, and stared down at him. ‘That’s a quotation,’ she said.

‘A what?’ said Max 

‘Ecssssactly,’ she hissed. ‘A bear of very little brain is what you are.’ And she stalked off with her tail in the air, leaving Max very confused. 



Later that day, Max saw Aliida reading a book with a picture of a yellow bear on the front. 

Was that the bear of very little brain? Was that a ‘quotation’? 

Aliida picked him up and tucked him into the crook of her arm while she read. She often did that and he loved it, even though it was sometimes uncomfortable if she squeezed too hard.

‘Look, Max,’ she said, pointing to a picture of the yellow bear wearing a red shirt.

‘That’s Pooh. He’s a very famous bear. He says such funny things. And he has such funny friends.’ She chuckled as she read on. When she had finished reading, she closed the book and looked at Max. He was pretty fed up of this Pooh character.

‘Now, Maxy,’ she said, patting his nose very lightly with her finger, ‘I don’t want you being jealous. Pooh is just a character in a book. He’s not a real bear like you. Besides, he isn’t at all as clever as you. He is a bear of very little brain. Look, it says so right here.’ And she pointed to a poem in the book.

So that’s what a ‘quotation’ was! Just some words out of a book. Nothing to worry about. And this Pooh bear was not as clever as Max, in fact he wasn’t even real! Max cheered up loads and enjoyed the rest of the day with Aliida.

 But next day, KP was at it again, needling him. ‘So, what’s so great about Suzie Squirrel? Are you going to ask her to marry you? I’ll bet she wouldn’t want a bear of very little brain.’

 Max was very dignified. ‘I am not a bear of very little brain. That is a bear called Pooh. And he’s not clever or real. He’s just a quot . . . quot . . . quotation!’  he finished triumphantly.

KP looked startled for a moment; then she remembered that cats are vastly superior to bears, no matter how little or big their brains are. She leapt gracefully up onto bed-above and stretched out full length there for the rest of the day so that Max had to sit on a chair in Teeveat until Aliida came home from school.

Sitting there, he thought a lot about what KP had said. Should he ask Suzie to marry him? Was that what he was supposed to do? And what did ‘marry’ mean anyway? It was all very well Aliida telling him he was clever but there were still so many things he just didn’t know.

That night, as he and Aliida lay cuddled up together in bed, she told him something that made his sleepy eyes fly open. ‘I am going to a wedding, Max,’ she whispered. ‘Very soon. In fact, tomorrow. I am going to be the flower-girl.’ Max could tell by the way she wriggled that she was excited. ‘I have a beautiful white dress and cape and handbag. Auntie H is going to marry Uncle Stuart.’   


Holy Koala! There was that word again: MARRY!  Max had been about to fall asleep but now he was wide awake. He had met Auntie H when Aliida had taken him with her to visit H (which turned out to mean ‘Heather’). She was a very beautiful lady.

 ‘So, tomorrow, I’m afraid I have to leave you behind. I will have a bouquet of flowers to carry as well as my special white handbag. I wouldn’t be able to carry you too.’ She kissed Max’s head and rubbed her nose against his nose. ‘But I will bring lots of photographs home for you to see.’


This was good news. He would be able to see just what this ‘marry’ business was. Then he could make up his mind about Suzie Squirrel. Max heaved a big sigh of relief and let himself slide into sleep. He dreamed of dancing with Suzie: she was wearing a beautiful white dress.




   

Max meets Suzie

posted 4 Mar 2017, 06:56 by Fran Brady   [ updated 4 Mar 2017, 07:03 ]


Aliida was sad. And when Aliida is sad, Max Bear is too. They lay together on Bed-Above and, even though it was not bedtime, Aliida was under her duvet. And when Aliida is under her duvet, Max is too. The blind at the window was still down, even though the sun was shining outside and trying to peep round the edges of the blind. The room was warm and, under the duvet, Max felt hot. Aliida had an arm round him, holding him close, which he usually liked very much. But today, the arm felt heavy and her breath on his head felt terribly hot. He wriggled, trying to put a gap between them but it didn’t help. 


Aliida had been sent home early from school. At first, Max had been delighted. School days could seem terribly long, all alone in the flat apart from Katy Price, and who knew what kind of mood she was going to be in? Some days, she chatted away to him, telling him all about Aliida’s mother, Tanya. 


Tanya had had KP for years before she married Archie, and Aliida was born. KP would preen and pose and tell Max that they were all – Archie, Aliida and Max – just newcomers. She had been there first, long before them. Now that Tanya was gone, KP felt that she was now the one in charge. She certainly acted like it, most of all to Max.  


Some days, KP was not in a talking mood. She curled up on Bed-Above and twitched her tail threateningly if Max tried to come up too. Her loud purrrring could be heard all over the flat but she would not say a word. Those were the longest, boring-est days. And today had been one of them.


So, when Aliida was brought home by Archie just before two o’clock, Max was thrilled. But Aliida was not her usual playful, loving self. She barely looked at Max who was sitting on the couch in Teeveat. To Max’s surprise, Archie helped her change out of her school uniform into her PJs and climb up into Bed-Above. Archie chased KP off. She fled with a startled ‘Meee-iaow’ and went to continue her sleep behind the couch. Archie came back into Teeveat and scooped Max up. 


‘Come on, young man,’ he said. ‘Time to earn your keep. There’s a sick wee lassie who needs her bear.’


When he heard that, Max squared his shoulders proudly. He was needed! Comforting the sick is one of the main duties in a bear’s job. He had submitted to being hauled under the covers and being almost suffocated; he had lain very still while Aliida slept; he had fitted his well-stuffed body into the curves of her body in a perfect cuddle. He was sure she would soon be well. Bear-magic would see to that.


But, now, after several hours, he had had enough. Surely Aliida must be better now? But it seemed not. She continued to sleep and her breath became hotter and hotter on his head. There was a funny noise coming out of her mouth, not quite a snore, but a chokey sort of grunt. This meant Max couldn’t sleep himself and time hung heavy in the hot little room. He prayed that she would wake soon and be all right again. Maybe take him out for a walk; maybe down to the swing park. He loved it when she tied him on to a swing and pushed it until he was flying. So exciting!


Then, the bell trilled in Hall. That meant someone was at the big door to the street and wanting to come in to see them. He heard Archie speak to the phone on the wall. ‘So pleased. So pleased,’ he was saying. ‘Come right in.’


The next voice he heard was Grandma Frances and Max’s heart leapt in joy. He loved GF. Whenever she came to take Aliida out, she always insisted on Max coming too. And she took them to such exciting places.


In a few minutes, GF and Archie came into Aliida’s bedroom. ‘Whatever’s the matter, sweetheart?’ said GF. ‘Are you ill? My poor wee darling.’ She stood on tiptoe and reached up to stroke Aliida’s forehead. ‘The child’s burning up. She needs lots of cool drinks. There’s a nasty bug going about. I’ll go to the shop right now and get some fruity water and paracetamol. That’s what she needs, poor wee lamb.’


She pulled back the duvet a little and saw Max. ‘Oh, your poor wee bear!’ Just look at you!’ 


Max was pleased to be called ‘poor’ and ‘wee’, same as Aliida, but knew that he was not looking his best. His fur coat was damp from Aliida’s sweaty crush, his smart clothes were crumpled and he had lost a shoe somewhere in the bed. GF gently loosened Aliida’s grip and lifted Max out of the bed. ‘Come along, young man,’ she said. ‘I think you need some fresh air. And I’ve got someone I want you to meet.’ 



GF took Max out to her car. He remembered it from the day they first came home from Bear Shop, after Aliida had rescued him. ‘You go in the back beside Suzie, ‘she said. ‘I know you two are going to be great friends. Suzie has just come to live with me. I rescued her last weekend. And I’ve been telling her all about you.’


GF opened the car door and thrust Max on to the seat. ‘Look, Suzie,’ she said. ‘This is Max. You and he are going to be great friends. I just know it.’ 


There was a squeak and swishing noise. Then a rusty-brown-red animal with a long fluffy tail leapt onto the back of the seat and sat blinking at Max. It wore a checked scarf and a big smile. ‘Hello, Max Bear,’ it said in a lovely, velvety voice. ‘I’m Suzie Squirrel. Very pleased to meet you.’


Max fell in love! 

 





Max goes to Soffpayland

posted 2 Feb 2017, 15:31 by Fran Brady

Max was sitting in his favourite place: on Aliida’s bed.  With lots of practice, lots of tumbles and a few bruises, he had slowly learned how to climb the ladder up to it. He hadn’t minded the tumbles or even the bruises; what really got to him was Katie Price watching him, waiting till he finally managed to heave himself on to the bed, then casually, with one giant bound, leaping up beside him. She would sit at the opposite end of Aliida’s bed, with her back turned towards him, a back that said ‘See how easy it is for me, you useless bear.’ Max would lie back against Aliida’s pillow, panting from his exertions on the ladder, and glare at that cat-back. ‘One of these days, I’ll show her,’ he thought.

Katie Price acted like she knew everything and Max knew nothing. She showed him round his new home when he first arrived on that cold December day. Aliida put him on a chair in her room and went off to have dinner. He was just thinking of having a little bear-nap when he felt a sharp scratch on one of his knees, then something tickled his face. He opened his eyes and stared into two shiny cat’s eyes. ‘Miaow! Come with me,’ said Katie Price. ‘I’ll show you My Town.’

My Town was almost as big as Bear Shop where Max had come from but, instead of one great, big room, it was split into five rooms. Katie Price stalked into each room: first the long, narrow one – she called this Hall; next the L-shaped one which had a huge bed in it and lots of shelves – she called this Archie (Max knew Archie was Aliida’s Daddy because she had introduced them as soon as they had arrived home from Bear Shop); next the smallest one – she called this Wet (human beings can’t lick themselves clean like animals, she explained, so they have all these shiny things that bring lots of water for them to wash in);  next the biggest one which had sofas, chairs and a table in one half and lots of cupboards and clutter in the other half – she called it TeeVeat (here Archie made food, then he and Aliida sat at the table to eat it, then they sat on the sofas and sometimes looked at a large black square which turned into moving pictures and loud voices –this was called ‘TeeVee’); and finally, saving the best for the last, she took him back to the room they had started from. It was smaller than Archie and TeeVeat but bigger than Hall and Wet. It had lots of toys and books in boxes and up on shelves. Best of all, it had a desk and chair with a ladder at the side up to a bed. Max liked the look of that ladder, he wanted to start climbing on it immediately. And he fell in love with ‘bed-above’. Such an exciting place to be, so high up, seeing the whole room all at once. He knew he would feel powerful up there.

It soon became his favourite place. He made his way up the ladder whenever Aliida wasn’t playing with him or sitting cuddling him while she watched TeeVee. The only thing that spoiled it was when Katie Price leapt up and joined him. Most of the time, she had ignored him after that first tour round My Town, but occasionally she liked to remind him that he was just a bear – and a newcomer-bear at that -  and she was The Cat who owned My TownMax tried to think of a way to show her that he was not just a bear but, whenever he tried to do something amazing, it always ended in disaster. Like the time . . . But that’s another story.

At last his chance came. GF was taking Aliida to a place called ‘Sofflay’. He almost got left behind because Aliida was so excited and, of course, Katie Price was winding herself around everyone’s legs and getting them flustered. At the last minute, GF said: ‘Aren’t you taking Max? He would love Soft Play.’

His eyes almost fell out of his head when he saw Sofflay.It was the most colourful place he had ever seen; the little streets, houses, bridges, tunnels and walls were all made out of big, brightly coloured shapes. And it was so soft and spongy that he didn’t mind a bit when he tumbled down. No bruises here – happy Max.

Aliida was happy too, shouting and squealing with laughter, jumping up and down, sometimes holding him tight, sometimes leaving him to watch while she performed a trick.

They discovered a big, round pool full of coloured balls. She leapt into it and called for him to come too, holding out her arms to catch him. He was a bit scared but he could never say ‘no’ to her. He screwed shut his eyes. ‘Here we go!’ he thought. ‘In for a penny, in for pound.’

He leapt into space and, for one terrible moment, thought he was never going to land. Then he was in Aliida’s arms and they were both covered in balls. She wriggled and all the balls wriggled too. She threw him up in the air and caught him. It was the best fun ever. 

GF came over and took a photo. 

‘Yes!’ he thought. “Beat that, Katie Price. One in the eye for that stuck-up, full-of-herself cat.’ 

Max was a very happy bear after his Adventure in Sofflay.


 

 

 

 

 

 

the adventure continues . . .

posted 16 Jan 2017, 14:25 by Fran Brady


It had been wonderful being chosen from the bear pit, changed from scrawny bear into chubby bear. Then that delicious, cold, white stuff to eat; the hug from Aliida; and Grandma Frances (GF) taking the photo with her phone. Max had seen lots of big people taking photos of other lucky bears and happy children. At last, it was his turn. Oh, happy, happy Max Bear!


Now they were on their travels again, walking through the bright shopping mall. Aliida had her arm around his middle – you couldn’t really call it a waist because the girl in the bear shop had stuffed him so full – his short legs dangling down and his head swiveling to and fro as he tried to see all the shop windows. So many bright lights and beautiful things. Some windows had huge dolls in them, showing off all sorts of clothes; some had rows and rows of glittery things on black velvet; some had big posters of people who must be famous – pop stars, maybe. And, everywhere, jingly music and shoppers rushing in and out of the shops, carrying bags bulging with their purchases. One lady had an enormous bag with rolls of Christmas wrapping paper sticking out of it. It must have been heavy because she kept staggering and bumping into other people who then turned around sharply and knocked the rolls of paper sideways into someone else. Max couldn’t help giggling as he watched. What a great adventure he was having!


But the next part of his adventure scared him. If he hadn’t been held so firmly by Aliida, he might have jumped out of her arms and run away. Where he would have run to he had no idea. Not back to the bear shop – imagine how the other bears would sneer! And he knew no other home. But the big metal box that they crowded into, all three of them huddled into a corner behind three other people who shoved in after them, terrified Max. He wanted to scream but couldn’t get a deep enough breath because Aliida’s grip on his tummy had tightened. All he could do was gasp and squeak. Out of the bear pit into a people pit, he thought. 


He didn’t think anyone would hear his pathetic squeak but he was wrong. Aliida bent her head and whispered in his ear: ‘It doesn’t take long. Don’t worry. It’s just the lift.’ 


Max had no idea what a ‘lift’ was; he just knew he hated it. ‘I guess I’m an outdoors sort of bear,’ he thought. ‘Don’t like being crammed into a small space with lots of other bears . . . or people.’


Then the worst thing happened! The floor beneath them suddenly dropped and with it his newly-stuffed tummy. Then the lovely new heart which Aliida had chosen for him leapt into his mouth. He was going to be sick!


The lift clanked to a halt and the doors trundled open. The people in front of them moved forward, Aliida loosened her strangling grip on his middle and he could breathe again. Pheweeee!


But, my goodness, how cold it was! And dark. Max had lived all his short bear-life in the warm, bright bear-shop. The gloomy, damp, chilly car park was like nothing he had ever imagined. Coming after the horrid lift, it depressed him. Was this to be his new life? Would he have been better to stay in the bear-shop?


A few moments later, he and Aliida were climbing onto a seat in another metal box. Aliida spoke to him: ‘Now, Max, I can see that you don’t know what’s happening to you and you’re frightened.’


You betcha sweet life I’m frightened, thought Max. Blooming terrified!


GF spoke: ‘It is all very new to him, Aliida, dear. It’s the first time he’s ever been in a car. Just cuddle him and tell him he’s safe. Tell him we’re taking him to his new home where he is going to live with you and Daddy.’


‘And Katie Price,’ said Aliida. 


 Katie Price? Wasn’t that the name of a glamorous model?


‘She’s our cat,’ explained Aliida. 


Holy Koala! A cat! As the car rolled along in the dark streets, Max wondered what else lay ahead. 


But, with Aliida cuddling him on her knee and kissing the top of his head, he reckoned he could cope with anything. New life, new home, new Max Bear: bring it on!




the first adventure . . .

posted 16 Jan 2017, 13:51 by Fran Brady


MAX BEAR lay in the bear pit, in a heap among lots of other bears. His neck was twisted and his scrawny body was tangled up with other scrawny-bear bodies. He could hear happy children coming in, full of excitement, and going out with their new bear-friends. But he had been in the scrawny-bear pit now for three weeks and no child had chosen him.


‘Today must be the day,’ he told himself as a new day dawned. The shop lights came on and the Christmas music started up in the shopping mall.


The first child who came in was a very noisy boy with a snotty nose. He bent over the bear pit and rummaged roughly among the bears. He picked up first one and then another but quickly threw them back into the pit. These bears considered they had had a lucky escape. This was not the kind of child they wanted to be chosen by. The horrid boy reached deep down into the pit and all the bears shrank away from him. For one terrifying moment, Max felt his leg clutched and he squealed in terror. Then a voice, an impatient big-person voice, said: ‘Get a move on, George. Just pick any bear. They are all the same. The whole point is to dress it up and make it your own, once you’ve got one out of the heap.’


All the same, indeed! Much they knew. To Max’s relief, the horrid boy, George, let go of his leg and grabbed another bear from the top of the pile. Phew! 


The next child was a very pretty, little girl with blond curls and a sweet mouth. She pursed her pink-rosebud lips as she delicately prodded each bear. She tilted her head to one side as she did this. She was quite lovely. All the bears stretched their scrawny necks as high above the heap as they could and tried to be the one she chose. Then she spoke: ‘Do I have to have another one? I’ve got so many already and I’m tired of bears. I never play with them anymore. I want a Barbie Doll.’


‘Don’t be ungrateful, Melanie,’ said a bored voice. ‘You know your grandfather likes buying you bears. It makes him happy.’


‘But I don’t WANT a bear!’ The girl’s voice was loud and she stamped her foot in anger. ‘Bears are boring! I want a Barbie . . .’ 


A big grown-up person’s hand with lots of rings on it reached down and grabbed one of the bears. The girl was dragged away still whining. The bear pit was silent for a few seconds. Then a sigh of relief went through all the bears.


‘Poor Clarence,’ thought Max. He’s gone to sit in a cupboard or up on a shelf with no one to love him and play with him. Max prayed that this would not happen to him. He so wanted to be loved and part of a happy family.


But the morning dragged on, lots of children came and went, lots of bears were chosen, but still Max lay in the pit. At one point, ten more scrawny-bears were tossed on top of him and he had to claw his way back up to the top in hope of being seen and chosen. Lunchtime came and the bears were fed their usual salty, lumpy porridge with no sugar or honey. 

Max thought about sitting at the table with a family for Christmas dinner and being fed delicious food. Lots of honey would feature in this meal, he was sure.


At half past two, the miracle happened. Into the shop came a beautiful girl with an older lady. It was obvious that neither of them had ever been to a bear shop before. They weren’t sure what to do but a shop assistant soon came over to help them.


‘Choose your bear, darling,’ said the lady. She had such a kind, jolly voice. Max liked her at once.


The girl looked into the bear pit. She didn’t rummage or pull at the bears, or pick up one up and then toss it back, like all the other children; she was gentle and her lovely dark eyes were full of gentleness. Max strained and stretched his neck until his head was almost touching her hand which was just hovering over the pit. He prayed like mad: ‘God, please make this lovely girl and lady choose me.’ 


Then the miracle happened. The girl gently teased his tangled legs out from the scrum of all the other bear-legs-and-arms and lifted him clean out of the pit. ‘This one!’ she said. ‘I want this one, please.’ 



The next thing Max knew, he was being filled with lovely soft stuffing. His gangly legs and arms became plump; he grew a round tummy and even a double chin! His new mummy chose a beautiful shirt and shorts for him, smart, sporty shoes and – joy of joys – a cool pair of shades. Max had been admiring those sunglasses for weeks and longing to have them. Then the girl – her name is Aliida – and the lady – her name is Grandma Frances – took Max for his first-ever ice cream. After weeks in the hot, sweaty bear pit, being fed only on salty porridge, it was heaven to sit on a chair at a table and eat the delicious, sweet, cold stuff. Max decided, there and then, that ice cream was his favourite food!


But best of all was when they had finished their ice creams and Grandma Frances said: ‘Now, Aliida, let’s get a photo of you and Max’ and she took out her phone and held it up, ready. Aliida did not even hesitate: she came right round to Max's chair and gave him the most wonderful hug. She was smiling so hard Max thought her lovely face would crack! 


    Max is going to love being part of this family . . .







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