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A Bear Called Paddington
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Bear Called Paddington is a wonderful story about the adventures and mishaps of a polite bear found abandoned at a London train and taken in by a British family. This beloved classic, originally published in 1958, comes out of an earlier tradition in children's literature in which stories were gently humorous and comforting. The oversized 50th anniversary edition, published in 2008, includes the original illustrations, now in color, and a few that were left out of the original edition.
What's the story?
The Browns find a small bear sitting on his suitcase in Paddington station in London with a tag that says, \"Please look after this bear.\" He has emigrated from \"darkest Peru\" after his Aunt Lucy went into \"a home for retired bears.\" So they take him home, name him after the station where they found him, and he quickly becomes one of the family. But, through no fault of his own, things are always happening to Paddington -- he's \"that sort of bear.\" But no matter how big the disaster, Paddington always comes out on top.
Is it any good?
This is a lovely way to introduce a new generation to one of the classic children's book series of the 20th century. The oversized 50th anniversary edition includes the original illustrations, now in color, and a few that were left out of the original edition. This is a book from an earlier time, when the humor was gentle and not fixated on bodily functions, when the classic British virtues of kindness, tolerance, and unflappability were assumed without fanfare, and when books for children were expected to entertain and comfort, not introduce them to the seamier side of reality.
Michael Bond is not A. A. Milne, winking at the adults in the room while he tells his stories to the children. These stories don't have different levels that appeal to different audiences -- they have just the one, which appeals to everyone. They are perfect both for young readers making the move into chapter books, and for snuggling up in bed with an adult to read to them out loud while you drift off to sleep -- there's nothing here to disturb young dreams, and much in both text and simple pictures to make both reader and listener grin and giggle. In our hurried, violent world, during the headlong rush to grow up, these stories can carve out a little space for a child just to experience unalloyed pleasure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how books for children have changed in the last half century. How does this book seem different from other, more modern books you read? Why do you think they have changed? Which type of book do you like better, and why? Why has this book lasted for so long?
- Author: Michael Bond
- Illustrator: Peggy Fortnum
- Genre: Animals
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Trains, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
- Publication date: March 29, 1958
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 142
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