Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Bear Called Paddington

My husband came home from work last evening and told the kids that he had read on the internet that Paddington is 50 years old. He mentioned this beacuause Michael Bond's A Bear Called Paddington is our family's current nighttime read aloud book. We are all greatly enjoying it. Aaron read it independently last year in third grade and I last read it about thirty years ago. Let me say, this well mannered bear from "darkest Peru" stands the test of time. I find myself explaining Londonisms (the Underground, big red buses, sixpence- England wasn't on the euro fifty years ago either) more than historical points. In case you are unfamiliar with the story of Paddington, the Brown family of London find him on a railway platform in Paddington station, carrying an old suitcase and wearing a tag around his neck that reads, "Please look after this bear. Thank you." His Aunt Lucy has entered a home for retired bears and made him emigrate from darkest Peru. The Browns welcome Paddington into their household which includes a son and daughter and a serious housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, who fortunately has a soft spot for bears. Paddington's optimism and good manners, coupled with his love of marmalade and curiosity, lead to all manner of sticky and humorous situations. This book is satisfying a wide range of ages in our family, from five to upper thirties. I must warn anyone planning to read it aloud, this book will put your British accents to the test. I have been accused of recycling my Professor McGonagall (from Harry Potter) for Mrs. Bird. My cockney taxi driver, on the other hand, was roundly praised, but I think the credit belongs more to the author than my delivery of his price quote, "Bears is sixpence extra," he said, gruffly. "Sticky bears is ninepence!"

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