Our book of August is A Bear Called Paddington! It is a children book written by British author Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum and published in 13 October 1958. The book introduced Paddington Bear, the friendly bear from Peru—with his old hat, battered suitcase (complete with a secret compartment), duffel coat and love of marmalade. Paddington books have been translated into 30 languages across 70 titles and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, and Paddington Bear has been featured in more than twenty books written by Michael Bond .
Paddington is an anthropomorphised bear. He is always polite – addressing people as “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Miss”, rarely by first names – and kindhearted, though he inflicts hard stares on those who incur his disapproval. He has an endless capacity for innocently getting into trouble, but he is known to “try so hard to get things right.”
In the first story, Paddington is found at Paddington railway station in London by the Brown family, sitting on his suitcase with a note attached to his coat that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Paddington arrives as a stowaway coming from “Darkest Peru”, sent by his Aunt Lucy (one of only a few known relatives aside from an Uncle Pastuzo who gave Paddington his hat), who has gone to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima. He claims, “I came all the way in a lifeboat, and ate marmalade. Bears like marmalade.” He tells them that no-one can understand his Peruvian name, so the Browns decide to call him Paddington after the railway station in which he was found. Paddington’s Peruvian name is ultimately revealed to be “Pastuso” (not to be confused with his “Uncle Pastuzo”).
Paddington’s adventures usually arise from him misunderstanding something and trying to right (what he perceives to be) unfair or unjust situations. This typically ends with him messing things up in some way. But in all his adventures, he ends up on top and everyone involved can laugh about it. (A notable exception to this rule is the Browns’ next-door neighbor Mr Curry, who, in every adventure, ends up in trouble.)
Paddington Bear has become a classic character from English children’s literature. A much loved fictional character in British culture, a Paddington Bear soft toy was chosen by British tunnellers as the first item to pass through to their French counterparts when the two sides of the Channel Tunnel were linked in 1994.
Paddington Bear teaches children how to be friendly and polite. He also inspires them to be golden-hearted and to have a strong sense of right and wrong, but in a funny and humorous way. Paddington Bear also teaches children that it is perfectly okay to be clumsy from time to time, as long as they try so hard to get things right!
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