A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Published: November 3rd 2003
Goodreads badgePublisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 159
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington, a most endearing bear from Darkest Peruon a railway platform in London. A sign hanging around his neck said, “Please look after this bear. Thank you” So that is just what they did.

 From the very first night when he attempted his first bath and ended up nearly flooding the house, Paddington was seldom far from imminent disaster. Jonathan and Judy were delighted with this havoc and even Mr. and Mrs. Brown had to admit that life seemed to be more filled with adventure when there was a bear in the house

From the very first pages I loved Paddington. There is just something about his sweet, well mannered and innocent nature that makes him special. While there are many books dedicated to the adventures of Paddington this is the first, and the one that explains his arrival in England. Found on the platform of Paddington Station he is taken in by the friendly Mr and Mrs Brown and he soon becomes part of the family.

The adventures in this book are very different from those in darkest Peru and Paddington marvels at everything he sees. His innocent and almost naive nature are a delight, but he isn’t so naive that he gets taken advantage of. He is a very well meaning bear and tries to do what is right, but I do love that he has a very persistent stare when he cares to use it, something that he brings out only for special occasions.

The book is a collection of the adventures Paddington has ranging from buying a coat (the coat) and going to the theatre or the beach. Reading how Bond explains these new experiences is a real joy, Paddington isn’t a child and so his reactions are very logical and reasoned. He says what he sees and he tries to understand as best he can but is not shy from pointing out each and all of his issues. Having come from darkest Peru even the little things we do and take for granted are new, watching him take a bath or ride the escalator and lift are very amusing and the way he handles it is terribly sweet.

This is classed as a children’s classic but I firmly believe this is a book that can be read and loved by everyone. Bond does not talk down to the reader as if he is writing for children, and despite there being two children in the book a lot of the conversation and content is directed at the adults, Paddington appears to have a much better relationship with the adults than the children. He is never once seen as a child but he is a young sort of bear which is different again entirely.

The 50th edition copy I have has a postscript by Bond explaining the impact Paddigton has had on himself and the world. He talks about where the idea came from and what it means to everyone. I do not think reading this changes the story in anyway, in a sense it is almost as if Paddington was sitting at the station, enjoying his life already and Bond simply wrote it down. As Garth Nix said, “Often, I get the feeling that the story is really happening somewhere and all I’m doing is trying to work out the best way to tell it.”

Bond wrote this in 1958 so people have grown up with Paddington for years, and I just need to take one look at Winnie the Pooh to realise that growing older does not mean you do not have an affection for the stories you read as a child. Paddington is practically a national treasure, even Stephen Fry loves him and how can you not adore someone that even the darling Stephen Fry has the greatest respect for.

Please don’t shy away from this book because you think it is for children, it can be read by children, adults and the elderly for eternity with equal love and affection. This is why it has become a timeless classic.

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