Thoughts: A Bear Called Paddington and More About Paddington, by Michael Bond

I mean, what can you say? It’s Paddington. They were both lovely reads, even if I was really the only one who appreciated them (the baby was sometimes amused by the voices I did though). I’m definitely going to read them to him again when he’s older, and see what he makes of them then.

I never actually read the Paddington books as a child – and I only saw the films years after they came out too – so this was all as new to me as it was to the baby. Also, he’s less than a year old, so I was really just reading a few minutes at a time when he was in the mood.

A series of short stories about the bear from Peru who moved to London knowing nothing and no one, causing merry havoc wherever he goes. I was pleasantly surprised at how long each story was and how much happened in each one. I don’t really know much about children’s literature in a technical sense, if that makes any sense at all? I read it and had it read to me when I was a child, but I am old enough that I have long since forgotten how attention span and grasp of stories develops with age. Much as I can’t tell the age of a child by looking (I really have no idea!) I have no idea what age range Paddington would suit best just by reading.

The language is a bit harder than I thought it would be, but mostly because it’s describing a world that has changed a lot (I saw a Goodreads review describe it as timeless and claim their kids didn’t need any explanations, which is a little bit insane to me because I, a thirty five year old woman, was not familiar with some of the everyday routine things of 1958 London and at least needed to think about them). The stories were fun to read aloud as well, which is a metric by which I have never judged a book before. First of many, probably.

The Browns’ experiences with Paddington felt pretty relatable on an emotional level, having just had my own life upended by a new chaotic arrival, and the mixture of exasperation and affection he engenders, even from saintly Mrs Brown, made me smile. I also felt strangely reassured by the fact that Paddington, through all the misadventures, does OK going out into the world and makes friends, because apparently now I can’t read children’s books without being weird about them. Paddington’s friendship with Mr Gruber is lovely. In general it’s just a really wholesome atmosphere – a little different to the films, more middle class, I guess? (Though both film and book families have a housekeeper.)

So, that’s about it! Looking forward to reading it again when the baby’s older, and seeing what his opinion is.

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