Allison's Book Bag

Paddington Here and Now

Posted on: December 5, 2010

What do Winnie the Pooh, Gentle Ben, and Paddington have in common? They are all beloved fictional bears. If you aren’t familar yet with Paddington Bear, Michael Bond introduced him to readers over fifty years ago. Wearing a bush hat, duffle coat, and Wellington boots, Paddington is one of my favorite bears. Now he has returned in a book  called Paddington Here and Now.

 Like its predecessors, in each chapter of this twelveth book, Paddington encounters a new adventure. Ever since the Browns found him in a train station, life has never been the same at 32 Windsor Gardens. Paddington is that kind of bear. When we first flip open the book, Paddington is having parking problems. His shopping cart has been stolen. Ironically, he’s the one who ends up in cuffs1 Next, Mrs Bird (the Browns’ housekeeper) sees a stranger at the window. This leads to Paddington’s experimentation with nondry antiburglar paint. Next a stranger on the street who hears Paddington play the piano enlists him as a concertist, while another writes a fantastical report about an organ replacement scandal after he interviews Paddington. Unfortunately, the interviewer also reveals that Paddington arrived in England from Darkest Peru by stowing away on a boat. The Browns fear for his deportation, especially when a limousine pulls up in their driveway.

Paddington from Peru, the immigrant

Image by Tim in Sydney via Flickr

 Michael Bond could probably have written this twelfth book as if readers would be familiar with Paddington. For those who know Paddington, his clothes are trademark  as are his hard stares, marmalade sandwiches, and excitement for new experiences. Yet Bond graciously intertwines descriptions of characters and settings with one line summaries for those readers who are just discovering Paddington. Besides quickly informing readers that Mr. Gruber is a long time friend and antique dealer and that Mr. Curry is a cranky cheapskate neighbor, he also deftly dips into the past to highlight former mishaps on the part of Paddington.

Bond maybe also could have written mediocre stories, as many successful authors have, and still earned the admiration of fans who are eager to read just one more book about his beloved bear creation. Yet his tone remains as light and funny as it was fifty years ago. I love Paddington’s reason for renaming Bay of Biscay to Bay of Biscuits: “Someone was hanging over the ship’s tail and they let go of a Garibaldi biscuit by mistake. It landed on my head, so I had it for dinner.” Misunderstandings are the norm in this book. Consider the example about the stranger who enlists Paddington as a concertist. He hears him play, praises Paddington, but never gives Paddington time to explain that the piano plays tunes by itself and Paddington had simply been following the keys’ movement with his paws.

If you are not familiar with Paddington, check out the book and discover a bear you will never forget. Both the books and a Paddington doll have a special spot in my heart. And thanks to Paddington, I like marmalade sandwiches! If you are familiar with the series, you are once again in for a pleasant read with lots of laughs. Paddington Here and Now came out in 2008, just in time for Paddington’s fiftieth anniversary, and is a welcome addition to this beloved set.

Statue of Paddington Bear in the shopping area...

Image via Wikipedia

 

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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