I was excited last year when I heard there was going to be a Paddington Bear movie opening in mid-winter. He was my favorite story book character when I was young. I watched the movie last month and then decided to re-read the first book in the Paddington Bear series: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond.
Near the Lost and Found in Paddington Station, a young bear waits. The words “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” are written on a tag hanging around his neck. He has traveled from Darkest Peru in a life boat on a steamer eating only marmalade. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have come to the railway station to pick up their daughter Judy. Mr. Brown sees the young bear.
Mrs. Brown clutched at her husband. “Why, Henry,” she exclaimed. “I believe you were right after all. It is a bear!”
She peered at it more closely. It seemed a very unusual kind of bear. It was brown in color, a rather dirty brown, and it was wearing a most odd-looking hat, with a wide brim, just as Mr. Brown had said. From beneath the brim two large, round eyes started back at her.
Seeing that something was expected of it, the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. “Good afternoon,” it said in a small, clear voice.
(Chapter One: Please Look After This Bear, p. 7)
Mrs. Brown convinces her husband that they should take care of the young bear for at least a little while. Judy is charmed by Paddington. Taking his paw as they make their way to a taxicab, she says,
“Come along, Paddington. We’ll take you home, and you can have a nice, hot bath. Then you can tell me all about South America. I’m sure you must have had lots of wonderful adventures.”
“I have,” said Paddington earnestly. “Lots. Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”
(Chapter One: Please Look After This Bear, p. 19)
Paddington has many adventures in the eight stories in the book. He approaches life with curiosity, good intentions, and dreams of glory. He is polite, thoughtful, earnest, enthusiastic, and wise.
I love marmalade on toast. Any bear who keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat for emergencies is a bear I would like to know! It was fun to read the stories again. The following are some of my favorite passages from the first book.
Paddington meets Mrs. Bird.
“Now you’re going to meet Mrs. Bird,” said Judy. “She looks after us. She’s a bit fierce sometimes and she grumbles a lot, but she doesn’t really mean it. I’m sure you’ll like her.”
Paddington felt his knees begin to tremble. He looked round for Mr. and Mrs. Brown, but they appeared to be having some sort of argument with the taxi driver. Behind the door he could hear footsteps approaching.
“I’m sure I shall like her, if you say so,” he said, catching sight of his reflection on the brightly polished letter box. “But will she like me?”
(Chapter One: Please Look After This Bear, p. 24)
“Hallo, Mrs. Bird,” said Judy. “It’s nice to see you again. How’s the rheumatism?”
“Worse than it’s ever been,” began Mrs. Bird – then she stopped speaking and stared at Paddington. “Whatever have you got there?” she asked. “What is it?”
“It’s not a what,” said Judy. “It’s a bear. His name’s Paddington.”
Paddington raised his hat.
“A bear,” said Mrs. Bird doubtfully. “Well, he has good manners, I’ll say that for him.”
(Chapter Two: A Bear in Hot Water, p. 26)
Paddington is left alone to take a bath and finds himself in trouble.
The water was hot and soapy and much deeper than he had expected. In fact, he had to stand on tiptoe even to keep his nose above the surface.
It was then that he had a nasty shock. It’s one thing getting into a bath. It’s quite another getting out, especially when the water comes up to your nose and the sides are slippery and your eyes are full of soap. He couldn’t even see to turn the taps off.
He tried calling out “Help,” first in quite a quiet voice, then very loudly: “HELP! HELP!”
He waited for a few moments, but no one came. Suddenly he had an idea. What a good thing he was still wearing his hat! He took it off and began baling out the water.
(Chapter Two: A Bear in Hot Water, p.37)
Never leave home without emergency rations.
As she closed the door, Paddington looked at the remains of his breakfast. Most of it was gone, but there was a large piece of bacon left, which it seemed a pity to waste. He decided to put it into his suitcase in case he got hungry later on.
(Chapter Three: Paddington Goes Underground, p. 50)
Paddington picked up his suitcase and followed Mrs. Brown and Judy to the front door. By the door, Mrs. Brown paused and sniffed.
“That’s very strange,” she said. “There seems to be a smell of bacon everywhere this morning. Can you smell it, Paddington?”
Paddington started. He put the suitcase guiltily behind himself and sniffed. He had several expressions which he kept for emergencies. There was his thoughtful expression, when he stared into space and rested his chin on a paw. Then there was his innocent one, which wasn’t really an expression at all. He decided to use this one.
“It’s very strong,” he said truthfully, for he was a truthful bear. And then he added, perhaps not quite so truthfully, “I wonder where it’s coming from?”
(Chapter Three: Paddington Goes Underground, p. 52)
A look is worth a 1000 words: the hard stare.
“No,” said Paddington, who had no idea what Government Surplus was. “Never!” He stared hard at the man, who looked away uneasily. Paddington had a very persistent stare when he cared to use it. It was a very powerful stare. One which his Aunt Lucy had taught him and which he kept for special occasions.
(Chapter Four: A Shopping Expedition, p. 68)
There are times when it is best to be quiet.
Paddington looked round uneasily. He could see Mrs. Brown and Judy hurrying towards him. In fact, there were several people coming his way, including an important-looking man in a black coat and striped trousers. They all reached him at the same time, and all began talking together.
Paddington sat down on his case and watched them. There were times when it was much better to keep quiet, and this was one of them.
(Chapter Four: A Shopping Expedition, p. 84)
Paddington day dreams of sand castles and glory.
He paddled out to where the water was deeper and then lay back in his rubber tire, letting the waves carry him gently back to the shore.
Ten pounds! Supposing … supposing he won ten pounds! He closed his eyes. In his mind he had a picture of a beautiful castle made of sand, like the one he’d once seen in a picture book, with battlements and towers and a moat. It was getting bigger and bigger, and everyone else on the beach had stopped to gather round and cheer. Several people said they had never seen such a big sand castle, and … He woke with a start as he felt someone splashing water on him.
“Come on, Paddington,” said Judy. “Lying there in the sun fast asleep. It’s time for lunch, and we’ve got lots of work to do afterwards.” Paddington felt disappointed. It had been a nice sand castle in his dream. He was sure it would have won first prize.
(Chapter Seven: Adventure at the Seaside, p. 137)
Paddington thinks about his Aunt Lucy.
“I wish,” said Paddington as he stood at the door waving everyone good-bye, “I wish my Aunt Lucy could see me now. She’d feel very pleased.”
“You’ll have to write and tell her all about it, Paddington,” said Mrs. Brown as she took his paw. “But in the morning,” she added hastily. “You’ve got clean sheets, remember.”
“Yes,” said Paddington. “In the morning. I expect if I did it now I’d get ink over the sheets or something. Things are always happening to me.”
“You know, Henry,” said Mrs. Brown as they watched Paddington go up the stairs to bed, looking rather sticky and more than a little sleepy, “it’s nice having a bear about the house.”
(Chapter Eight: A Disappearing Trick, p. 167)
The story in the movie Paddington (2015) is slightly different than the one in the book. There were a few sad scenes and scary moments. I smiled through most of the movie and laughed more than a couple of times. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet by telling you my favorite scenes. If you are curious, there are trailers for the movie on You Tube.
Mr. Bear was a gift from my grandmother. His story can be found in the post The Adventures of Mr. Bear. Paddington Bear is his hero. He was pleased to be able to read the book and watch the movie.
Take care and thanks for reading.
PS. The page numbers refer to the hardback edition of A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, (1958), the Harper US edition (2014).