A Bear Called Paddington
Bond, Michael. (1958)
I've mentioned before about how my childhood was severely lacking in fictional bears. One of those bears was Paddington, from 'deepest, darkest Peru.' Husband loves Paddington Bear and spent weeks calling me Paddington after I bought a blue duffle-style coat. At husband's insistence the children's classic 'A Bear Called Paddington' by Michael Bond made it onto my Classics Club list. Turns out, it will be my first finish of the list too! After a particularly long day at work I curled up in bed and read it in one sitting.
I'm so glad I've rectified this missing part of childhood, because Paddington is adorable. From the moment that he fell into a saucer of tea on page 7 I was charmed (though utterly confused by his size, as apparently he is small enough to fall into a saucer of tea but big enough to come up to the waist of Judy Brown, who seems to be about 8 years old). The charm only continues. I found myself laughing out loud constantly and reciting bits of it back to husband. From dragging bacon around in his suitcase to nearly drowning in the bath Paddington is a bear with the biggest heart and the biggest knack for trouble. Michael Bond's writing is surprisingly witty and descriptive, making this the kind of book that children of all ages will laugh at. Peggy Fortnum's line drawing illustrations are gorgeous and simply add to the text. Paddington's character is very fully fleshed in comparison to many children's books of the era that I've stumbled upon - not only is he mischievous, but also thoughtful, a little stingy and has a very unsettling stare.
The setting is surprisingly undated. Although one does get a small impression that Paddington is in a Britain of yesteryear, all the settings will be familiar with todays readers, from Paddington station, to department store window displays and the havoc of the London underground.
There's not much else to say really. If you haven't read Paddington, dig it out and give him a try sometime. He's something quite special and definitely deserves his status as a classic children's character.
5 stars. I'll be going back for more.