A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel:  0 points
Variety of characters: 0 point
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point

I have a very soft spot for the Paddington books. I remember reading them as a child myself, and rereading this with C was a very nostalgic experience.

Paddington is very much at the centre of the narrative, so although there are several named female characters, there’s never really a conversation between any two of them that doesn’t involve Paddington himself. Also, despite the fact that Paddington is meant to come from “Darkest Peru”, he is still a profoundly British character, and there really isn’t anyone else in the book who in any way shows any diversity. So I can’t give it points for any of that.

I’m giving it one discretionary ideology point just because I love the sense of family in the Brown household. I mean it’s very much a story set in a particular place and time with all the cultural and ideological mores of that place and time, but the Browns are a genuinely warm and very real feeling family. There’s a lot of “typical gender roles” and that sort of thing, but their acceptance of Paddington and tolerance for his habit of getting into scrapes is quite charming.

Honestly, I still love Paddington. It certainly isn’t going to win any prizes for challenging the status quo, but it has warmth and kindness, and there’s something lovely about the character.

C wasn’t quite as taken with it as me. He gave it a thumbs up, but definitely seemed to be a bit bored by the story. I wonder how much of that was that it actually is better for slightly older kids, or how much is just that the world in which Paddington and the Browns live is so alien to his own.

Still, worth a read I think.

One thought on “A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond

  1. The thing I (and my girls) really love about Paddington is that while he’s always in trouble, it always derives from him trying to do the right thing with boundless enthusiasm. We watched the most recent movie, and all agreed that the problem with it was that Paddington doesn’t really need a high-stakes villain – Paddington trying to do stuff should generate stories all by itself, and Mr Curry is all the antagonist you need.


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