A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
|A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Back – as if he'd ever gone away – the world's most famous Peruvian gets a deluxe edition to show just how charming he was from the start.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 144||Date: November 2013|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
Being childless, I've never had reason to read books out loud to youngsters. I've never faced the challenge of having to pace the story verbally, find the very easily understood stress of the sentence for the young mind, or more importantly find the voice for each and every main character. There are a host of people who would have read this book and its sequels to their children however, and they never had to find the voice to read it out at all – for my generation, the TV version of Paddington is still firmly fixed in our minds after many a decade. But I can also remember reading a copy of this opening collection of short stories at that age as well – and everything associated with Paddington Bear is only going to bring back the firmest of warm memories. This lovely new volume will only create a host more too.
It's not the first time the whole thing has been re-presented, but for the deluxe edition at hand we have a new foreword for 2013 about the character's creation. The initial eight tales are here, on lovely firm paper stock, in a nice chunky hardback, with brilliant coloured versions of the original illustrations. I don't think they are a hundred per cent the original stories – tales of a tube ticket costing 80p wouldn't have happened in 1958, when the fine Paddington nearly faces paying would have bought him a car. But decimal or not, there's nothing to hide the timeless qualities of the tales.
We start of course with Mrs and Mrs Brown collecting their daughter from Paddington Station and finding instead a lonely immigrant bear, from Darkest Peru, with a fondness for marmalade – and getting into messy pickles. His first meal is a messy disaster of cream buns and tea, his first proper clean-up a messy disaster of flooding bathwater and a map of his journey in shaving foam, his first visit to a department store a messy accident in the display windows – you get the picture. Always, Paddington gets to land on his own two feet.
There are definitely factors to the stories the young reader these days will not fully manage to grasp – the posh family with their boarding daughter and Mrs Bird the housekeeper who's always on hand with a gentle word and a tub of marmalade. All the corners of London mentioned are of the slightly gentrified kind, and the bear's best friend outside the family is an antiques dealer who likes nothing more than shooting the breeze with him over elevenses. But such plumminess is definitely not going to be a problem with the charm and quality of what's presented here. It's nice having a bear about the house says the last sentence, and the book collector and book lover will certainly agree. It won't be purely for nostalgia reasons that this gets snapped up.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
You will probably enjoy the author's other series The Tales of Olga Da Polga - if you brace yourself for the dated and twee.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond at Amazon.com.
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