Harry is not mine, nor is anything else in this story. Corduroy
was written by Don Freeman.
I don’t know if Corduroy
is as popular with kids in Britain as it is
here in the States, but I just liked the idea of five-year-old Harry really
liking this story and identifying with the little brown bear in green overalls.
Dedicated to my son, Liam.
A Harry Story
Five-year-old Harry Potter
opened his cupboard door as slowly and quietly as he could. He blinked hard to get his eyes to focus, but
they stayed blurred, and he sighed. He
reckoned it was just one more reason for the Dursleys not to like him. His eyes didn’t even work properly.
It was lonely in the cupboard
under the stairs, and tonight, Harry wanted a story. There was only one way he would get to hear
one. He shut his eyes and wished as hard
as he could not to be heard as he tiptoed up the stairs to Dudley’s
room. He paused outside the slightly
opened door and waited, scrunching himself up to take up as little space in the
hallway as possible.
“What story would you like to
hear tonight, popkin?” Aunt Petunia said in her best syrupy-sweet voice.
“Read the one about the bear,
I guess…” Dudley said in a tone that suggested he didn’t really care
But Harry, unseen in the
hallway, grinned. This was his favorite
story, though he’d never even seen the cover of the book, nor any of the
pictures. He could really imagine what
it was like to be that small bear in the department store…
Corduroy was a bear who once lived in the toy department of a big store. Day after day he waited with all the other
animals and dolls for someone to come along and take him home…
Harry closed his eyes. Aunt Petunia’s voice wasn’t the one he wanted
to hear, but if he tried hard enough he could imagine it different than it was:
softer, prettier. He wondered if the
voice he imagined in his head was his mother’s, who had died in a car crash
when he was just a year old.
“Oh Mommy, look!
There’s the very bear I’ve always wanted!”
“Not today dear,” her mother sighed. “I’ve spent too
much already. Besides, he doesn’t look
new. He’s lost the button to one of his shoulder straps.”
Corduroy watched them sadly as they walked away.
Harry always felt sorry for
the poor little bear at this part of the story.
It must have been very hard to have been so close to a new home, and
miss it because of a stupid little button.
He would have gone looking for it too, if it had been him.
...He stepped off the escalator as it reached the next
floor, and there before his eyes was a most amazing sight—tables and chairs and
lamps and sofas and rows and rows of beds.
“This must be a palace!” Corduroy gasped. “I guess I’ve always wanted to
live in a palace.”
Harry had often dreamed of living
in a palace or a castle somewhere, but he thought he would settle for somewhere
he was welcome. He wondered what it
would be like to live somewhere that someone would actually be glad to see him. He could imagine, of course…but he
He could vividly imagine the
little bear searching everywhere for his lost button, hiding beneath the covers
on the biggest bed of all, with just his wee little brown ears sticking
out. He’d never had a stuffed bear of his
own, but he remembered Dudley getting one for Christmas that year. He could imagine the night watchman (who, for
some reason, was an extremely large man with bushy hair and beard)
carrying the little bear back down where he belonged. But Harry really liked the next part, and he
“I’m Lisa,” she said, “and you’re going to be my very
own bear. Last night I counted what I’ve
saved in my piggy bank and my mother said I could bring you home.”
How happy the little bear
must have felt! Harry could just imagine
the little girl bringing Corduroy home and how pleased the bear must have been
to get out of that department store. How
dreadfully boring it must have been!
Harry could imagine exactly what he must have felt like, and he smiled
broadly at the best bits that were next.
“This must be home,” he said. “I know I’ve always wanted a home!”
Lisa sat down with Corduroy and began to sew a button
on his overalls. “I like you the way you
are,” she said, “but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap
“You must be a friend,” said Corduroy. “I’ve always
wanted a friend.”
“Me too!” said Lisa, and gave him a big hug.
While Harry was always
disappointed that the story ended, he was always glad that the bear had found a
home and a friend. He hugged himself,
and then got up from his rather cramped spot in the hallway, tiptoeing quickly
down the stairs and back into his cupboard, shutting the door as quietly as he
could. The sheets and blankets were
chilly when he got into them, but Harry curled up beneath them and they soon
warmed up. He imagined the story over
again, the bushy-haired night watchman carrying Corduroy down the escalator,
and the little girl coming to get her bear, and the hug, over and over again
until he fell sound asleep.