More About Paddington by Michael Bond, copyright 1959.
Illustrated by: Peggy Fortnum
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New from Munro’s Books
Reason for Reading: It’s Paddington Bear, why else?
When you are looking for some lighthearted comfort reading, nothing beats Paddington Bear. I remember watching a TV series featuring the bear from Darkest Peru when I was a kid, although, after reading this book, I suspect I didn’t watch nearly enough of it!
In More About Paddington, Paddington Brown, the polite, marmalade-sandwich eating immigrant surprises his adoptive family with a “new” camera he has purchased at the market with a little help from his friend Mr. Gruber. Once Mrs. Bird, the housekeeper, extracts Paddington’s head from the inside of the camera, our young bear friend elates the family when he manages a rather nice, if somewhat smudged, shot of the whole works of them. The goodwill earned on his camera escapade only goes so far though when the Brown Family returns from an outing to discover that Paddington has been doing some redecorating in their absence. Dear me, the decorating is only the beginning of Paddington’s (mis)adventures. Those who are familiar with Michael Bond’s charming Peruvian ours will know, there is no shortage to the trouble the young Mr. Brown can get himself into. The stories in this collection are no exception.
“In the back of the car Mrs. Bird pretended she hadn’t heard a thing. An idea had suddenly come into her mind and she was hoping it hadn’t entered Paddington’s as well; but Mrs. Bird knew the workings of Paddington’s mind better than most and she feared the worst. Had she but known, her fears were being realised at that very moment.” More About Paddington, page 29.
Paddington Bear, it seems to me, is a somewhat underrated literary character in North America. Winnie-the-Pooh hogs the spotlight on this side of the Pacific, even though, clearly, Paddington has far more brains and charm than the bear from the Hundred Acre Woods. I suspect Paddington has a much wider following in the UK, and perhaps Peru too for that matter. Nevertheless, fifty-some odd years after his debut, Paddington Bear still manages to bring us joy.
Peggy Fortnum’s original illustrations of Paddington used in the storybooks bring a far more authentic feeling to Bond’s stories and make the Paddington of literature seem like an entirely different character than the one we are accustomed to seeing on PBS today. When I see the image of Mrs. Bird’s large bottom walking down the hall with a tiny, paint-soaked bear in tow, leaving painty paw prints the length of the hall, I can’t help but smile. I think doctors should start prescribing Paddington Bear for patients with clinical depression.
RATING: A Wool New Kind of Read