Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator)

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Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator)

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Another variety pack - and indeed the last original one - of stories from the creator of the world's most accident-prone bear.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 9780006753780

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In the eyes of those who write proverbs, giving is as good as receiving. Similarly in the eyes of Paddington Bear, taking a test is as good as giving a test, for he is without equal in giving tests – to the patience of the Brown family who adopted him many years ago, principally. Other people he meets on a temporary basis in the course of his adventures – pantomime magicians, art school bosses, country house owners – have varying degrees of luck and ability in dealing with him, but it's the family he returns to each night that is put through a worrying mill so often, and still comes out loving him. But when he himself takes a test – well, the kind it actually is is best for you to discover yourself…

Patchily taking in the complete oeuvre of Bond's bear I come to a collection from the late 1970s, again with seven stories, and again showing how well suited to the matter both creator and subject are. While keeping his bear within the small environs of his family and the Portobello Market area of London, the imagination of the writer keeps PB consistently engaged in mischief, misfortune and misunderstanding. And always the bear is up to it – making so much right for the reader by getting so much wrong, eagerly volunteering for anything that comes his way – especially, that is, if there is the price of a bun or a marmalade sandwich on offer at the end of it.

There is a slight sense of things being stretched a little – certainly the regular scenario here is made a little less realistic when a sauna is constructed in the back garden for a certain shenanigan. And there is a howling mistake when a joke is completely missed out, when we're told the bear had been in neither the Scouts nor the Cubs. And while we're at it, the modern reader will still fail to get every reference, such as when the panto proves to be so hip and trendy it plays the 'Tritsch Tratsch Polka' for one. But the joy Paddington has brought to so many generations is still evident. His world is brought to life in simply pleasurable ways, his mindset is always that of the innocent abroad, creating much sympathy for him and his family, and there's no way to not love him, whether he's just trying to do the ironing (and mending clothes with a mushroom, for another antiquated reference) or, er, trying to get in a hammock.

This book passed the test for being fully varied yet more of the same. It wasn't a testing time for this reader – oh, I give up. There is no hope of this review being as light-hearted as these matchless stories, and my limited experience of all the volumes suggests to me that any and all of the original books will be well worth picking up for some nostalgic whimsy. This one, while being the last of the classic originals, may show no signs of being that as such, but has all the hallmarks the series held.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

You can always start at the beginning, and meet Paddington, for the first time or otherwise, here.

Michael Bond's Original Paddington Bear Books in Chronological Order

Buy Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator) at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Paddington Takes the Test by Michael Bond and Peggy Fortnum (illustrator) at Amazon.com.

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