Seven years ago, while on vacation in Door County, our daughter made the acquaintance of Paddington Bear in the children’s section of the Made in Britain shop. Upon returning home, she pulled our copy of Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington from the bookshelf and voraciously began to read. Upon completion of the first book, she moved onto More About Paddington, and Paddington Marches On. This was followed by a trip to the library to acquire more books in the Paddington Bear series: Paddington Helps Out, Paddington Abroad, Paddington at Large, Paddington at Work, Paddington Goes to Town and Paddington Takes the Air. By the end of the summer, she had read through the entire Paddington Bear series twice.
The origins of Paddington Bear, begin on Christmas Eve 1956. Michael Bond, then a cameraman for the BBC decided to purchase a lonely toy bear on the shelf at a London department store for his wife. The whimsical bear inspired Bond to begin writing a story beginning with these words: “Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.” (1) Within little over a week, Bond has penned eight stories about the beloved “bear from Darkest Peru” which would come to be published as the children’s classic A Bear Called Paddington.
In A Bear Called Paddington, the delightful ursine begins his journey by being discovered on the railway platform at Paddington Station by the Brown family. Upon reading the message on the tag attached to the bear, the Browns decide to adopt him and dub him “Paddington Bear.” Our protagonist goes from one adventure to another: the taste of cream buns, his first hot bath in a bath tub, traveling on the London underground, shopping in a department store, aspiring to become a master painter, visiting the theatre, a trip to the sea side, and celebrating his first birthday with the Browns.
As a parent, I mused over why this particular bear holds a special place in my daughter’s heart. After much contemplation, I came to to this conclusion: A Bear Called Paddington introduced her to an extraordinary character who opened the magic gateway into a “wider world of wonder, beauty, delight and adventure” as Gladys Hunt so eloquently expresses in her best-selling book, Honey for a Child’s Heart. (2)
(1) Bond, Michael. A Bear Called Paddington. New York, New York: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 5, 2016).
(2) Hunt, Gladys. Honey for a Child’s Heart. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. 2002.