Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paddington Bear

One in a series of posts about children's classic books available for borrowing from our school library.

Paddington Bear is a polite immigrant bear from Darkest Peru, with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffle coat and love of marmalade sandwiches he has become a classic character from English children's literature.

The Paddington Bear stories were written by Michael Bond and based on a lone toy bear he saw sitting in a London store. This from an article in The Independent newspaper celebrating Paddington Bears 50th anniversary in 2008:  Mr Bond describes how a pang of sympathy for a neglected toy bear in a London shop inspired him to write the children's stories which have since been translated into 30 languages, and sold more than 30 million copies around the world: "I bought a small toy bear on Christmas Eve 1956. I saw it left on a shelf in a London store and felt sorry for it. I took it home as a present for my wife Brenda and named it Paddington as we were living near Paddington Station at the time. I wrote some stories about the bear, more for fun than with the idea of having them published. After ten days I found that I had a book on my hands. It wasn’t written specifically for children, but I think I put into it the kind of things I liked reading about when I was young." 

The first Paddington book A Bear Called Paddington was published in 1958 and is still in print today. Eleven other Paddington books have since been published, the most recent Paddington : Here and Now was published in 2008 exactly 50 years after the first book.  In 1972 the first picture book editions of  the Paddington books were published, the most recent picture book editions, illustrated by R.W. Alley, were published in the 1990's.  R.W. Alley's version of Paddington worked so well that he was then asked to re-illustrate many of the earlier picture books as well as covers for the novels including the latest novel Paddington Here and Now.

The Paddington Bear stories were adapted for television series in the 1970's and late 1980's and it has been suggested that there could soon be a movie adaption too. There are also numerous soft toy versions of Paddington Bear, however the first manufactured Paddington Bear was created in 1972 by Gabrielle Designs who dressed  Paddington in Wellington boots to help him stand upright.

We have Paddington Takes the Air in the fiction section of our library. We also have copies of the picture book versions of Paddington Bear; Paddington at the Carnival; Paddington at the Zoo and Paddington the Artist in the picture book boxes.

Upper Hutt Public Library has copies of 12 Paddington Bear books in the Childrens section as well as an audio book and a copy of the 50th Anniversary Paddington Bear DVD.

Most of the above information is from or adapted from: here, here and here.

Trivia:  Gabrielle Designs, was a small business run by Shirley and Eddie Clarkson and the prototype Paddington Bear was made as a Christmas present for their children Joanna and Jeremy Clarkson - yes that is Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear.

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