Bond, Michael 1926-
Bond, Michael 1926-
Michael Bond 1926-INTRODUCTION
(Full name Thomas Michael Bond) English author of children's books.
For additional criticism on Bond's works, see CLR, Volume 1.
Bond is the author of a series of well-known children's books focusing on a stuffed animal named Paddington—a lovable, genial, bumbling, charming, ingenious, innocent, and very funny bear. According to interviews, Bond stopped by a London store on Christmas Eve in 1957 to buy a present for his wife. "On one of the shelves I came across a small bear looking, I thought, very sorry for himself as he was the only one who hadn't been sold. I bought him and because we were living near Paddington station at the time, we christened him Paddington. He sat on a shelf of our one-roomed apartment for a while, and then one day when I was sitting in front of my typewriter staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering what to write, I idly tapped out the words 'Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform.'… It was a simple act and in terms of deathless prose, not exactly earth shattering, but it was to change my life considerably.… Without intending it, I had become a children's author."
Bond was born January 13, 1926, in Newbury, Berkshire, England, and was raised by parents who often read to him. As a result, he became a voracious reader throughout his childhood. He attended Presentation College in Reading from 1934 to 1940, then worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London as an engineer's assistant. In 1943, during World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force as a navigator, but extreme airsickness forced him to transfer to the British Army in 1944, and he finished his service in 1947 in the Middlesex Regiment. After the war he worked with a monitoring service before returning to the BBC in 1950. He became both a television cameraman and a writer, producing adult stories, newspaper articles, radio and television scripts, children's plays, and finally children's books. By 1966 his Paddington books were selling so well that he was able to become a full-time writer.
In 1980 Bond wrote in a Horn Book article, "If there is something magical about reading, there is also a feeling of excitement about slipping a blank sheet of paper into the typewriter and embarking on a voyage of exploration which, one hopes, others will enjoy too. And that's really what writing or storytelling is all about, for if the writer doesn't feel the excitement or believe in his characters, there is no earthly reason why the reader should."
After the success of his first book, A Bear Called Paddington (1958), Bond wrote one book every year for six years, subsequently slowing down to write one every two years thereafter. He noted in Somethingabout the Author Autobiography Series, "Writing is a lonely occupation, but it's also a selfish one. When things get bad, as they do for everyone from time to time, writers are able to shut themselves away from it, peopling the world with their characters, making them behave the way they want them to behave, saying the things they want to hear. Sometimes they take over and stubbornly refuse to do what you tell them to do, but usually they are very good. Sometimes I am Paddington walking down Windsor Gardens en route to the Portobello Road to buy his morning supply of buns.… I wouldn't wish for anything nicer."
Paddington is discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Brown on the platform of Paddington Station sporting a note reading, "Please look after this bear." The Browns take him home and he becomes one of the family, learning how to cope in his new environment. Genial and endearing, Paddington is funny not because of what he does but how he does it, getting himself into and back out of all kinds of trouble. He has strong principles, few prejudices, and an admirable resourcefulness free of rancor. His world is a world of childhood innocence in which bad things rarely happen, although he often misunderstands what people say to him. Much of the humor comes from misunderstood messages and confused vocabulary. For example, when the dentist uses the word "we" in preparing Paddington for a treatment, Paddington thinks the dentist will be getting a shot too; when a groom tells Mrs. Brown he will "give her a ring," meaning he will telephone her, Paddington tries to save him a trip by taking the wedding ring to Mrs. Brown himself.
Shelle Rosenfeld wrote in her School Library Journal review of Paddington at Large (1962), "Bond's prose is fun to read, with the solemn, serious Paddington providing humorous contrast to the absurd goings-on around him." In her School Library Journal review of Paddington Takes the Test (1979), Anna Biagioni Hart commented, "The consequences of his literal-mindedness are hilarious." The critics' general consensus of the Paddington books was expressed in a School Library Journal review of A Bear Called Paddington: "The book's success, and that of its eight sequels, rests on its gently humorous tone and its respect for the child reader."
The original Paddington books were illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, who gave Paddington his disheveled appearance and his floppy hat. In 1972 Bond began publishing Paddington picture books using a several new illustrators, all of whom retained Paddington's unkempt look and characteristic garb. Some critics thought the picture books were much less charming and did not provide the same scope for character development as the originals. Other critics liked the picture books just as much as the original books. Bond believed that even though the illustrations differed stylistically, the duffle coat, hat, and boots identified Paddington as the same beloved character.
Bond had moderate success with a book series about another humorous animal, Olga da Polga. Olga is a vain and talkative guinea pig who refers to humans as "Sawdust People" and lives by the motto "Eat More, Think Less." She makes up fantastic stories—to explain things like how guinea pigs lost their tails and why they have such beautiful eyes—and has an unusual and interesting perspective on events such as snowfall and Christmas. A critic for the Times Literary Supplement, reviewing Bond's first book about Olga, The Tales of Olga da Polga (1971), enjoyed Olga's character: "There is a touch of Bunter and Falstaff in Olga, and as an incidental and unobtrusive bonus, readers will get some sound practical advice on how to keep a guinea-pig happy and healthy." In the inevitable comparison with Paddington, Olga fared well with a critic for Kirkus Reviews: "Olga may not be destined to go as far as her fellow Peruvian Paddington, but like him she transforms childishness into virtue and child-sized scrapes into triumph with an elan that's contagious." Bond created four Olga sequels with Olga Meets Her Match (1973), Olga Carries On (1976), and Olga Takes Charge (1983), and Olga Moves House (2001).
Here Comes Thursday! (1966) introduced a series about a young mouse. Thursday is the youngest of twenty children, having been adopted by the Cupboardosites after he escaped by balloon from the Home for Waif-mice and Stray-mice. The plots are more complex than those in the Paddington books, and some critics see the Thursday books as a precursor to Bond's adult mysteries. In Here Comes Thursday! Thursday saves the family's grocery business with his cleverness—and the help of his escape balloon. "The humor here is more subtle than that in the author's Paddington stories, but sophisticated young readers will find it an utterly delicious whimsical tale," wrote a reviewer for Booklist. A Times Literary Supplement critic wrote that Thursday was "a belly laugh." Although the first Thursday book had only limited popularity, Bond wrote three others: Thursday Rides Again (1968), Thursday Ahoy! (1969), and Thursday in Paris (1971).
Bond tried one more series starring an animal, J. D. Polson, a Texas armadillo. Bond conceived the J. D. Polson books as picture books for young children with something different on each page, but critics thought the stories were too sophisticated for the intended audience. In the first book, J. D. Polson and the Liberty Head Dime (1980) J. D. finds a rare 1894 coin and ultimately becomes President of the United States. Critics compared J. D. to Paddington and found J. D. less charming and not as much fun. Despite lackluster reviews, Bond also published J. D. Polson and the Dillogate Affair (1981).
Although Bond's other ventures into children's literature have been of mixed success, his books about Paddington Bear have become classics. The image of Paddington with his duffle coat and Wellingtons has become an icon of childhood, inspiring a host of ancillary products. Both children and critics have fallen for the charm of Paddington's innocence and good humor. In an article for Smithsonian, Kathleen Burke explains Paddington's attraction: "Paddington exerts an enduring charm. The appeal lies partly in the pace: Paddington is unhurried, and we are all participants in the bear's dozy perambulations.… Even more alluring, though, is the spirit of unabashed goodwill pervading all the books. The Browns … simply clasp Paddington in their arms and trundle him home to 32, Windsor Gardens, no questions asked. 'We shall expect you,' announces Mrs. Brown as they leave the station, 'to be one of the family.'" A Bear Called Paddington has been translated into thirty languages in twenty countries, and there is a bronze statue of Paddington Bear in London's Paddington Station.
The Tales of Olga da Polga received a Notable Book citation from the American Library Association. In 1997 Bond was honored with an Order of the British Empire for his service to children's literature.
A Bear Called Paddington (story book) 1958
More about Paddington (story book) 1959
Paddington Helps Out (story book) 1960
Paddington Abroad (story book) 1961
Paddington at Large (story book) 1962
Paddington Marches On (story book) 1964
Here Comes Thursday! (story book) 1966
Paddington at Work (story book) 1966
Paddington Goes to Town (story book) 1968
Thursday Rides Again (story book) 1968
Thursday Ahoy! (story book) 1969
Paddington Takes the Air (story book) 1970
Michael Bond's Book of Bears [editor] (story book) 1971
The Tales of Olga da Polga (story book) 1971
Thursday in Paris (story book) 1971
The Day the Animals Went on Strike (picture book) 1972
Michael Bond's Book of Mice [editor] (story book) 1972
Paddington Bear (picture book) 1972
Paddington's Garden (picture book) 1972
Paddington Goes Shopping [Paddington's Lucky Day] (picture book) 1972
Olga Meets Her Match (story book) 1973
Paddington at the Circus (picture book) 1973
Paddington Goes to School (picture book) 1974
Paddington on Top (story book) 1974
How to Make Flying Things (nonfiction) 1975
Mr. Cram's Magic Bubbles (story book) 1975
Paddington at the Seaside [Paddington at the Seashore] (picture book) 1975
Paddington at the Tower (picture book) 1975
Olga Carries On (story book) 1976
Paddington Goes to the Sales (picture book) 1976
Paddington at the Station (picture book) 1976
Paddington Takes a Bath (picture book) 1976
Paddington's New Room (picture book) 1976
Paddington Does It Himself (picture book) 1977
Paddington in the Kitchen (picture book) 1977
Paddington's Birthday Party (picture book) 1977
Paddington Takes the Test (story book) 1979
J. D. Polson and the Liberty Head Dime (picture book) 1980
Paddington and Aunt Lucy (picture book) 1980
Paddington Goes Out (picture book) 1980
Paddington at Home (picture book) 1980
Paddington in Touch (picture book) 1980
Paddington Weighs In (picture book) 1980
J. D. Polson and the Dillogate Affair (picture book) 1981
Paddington on Screen (story book) 1981
*J. D. Polson and the Great Unveiling (picture book) 1982
The Caravan Puppets (story book) 1983
Olga Takes Charge (story book) 1983
Paddington on the River (picture book) 1983
Paddington's Storybook (story book) 1983
Paddington's Suitcase (picture book) 1983
Paddington and the Knickerbocker Rainbow (picture book) 1984
Paddington at the Zoo (picture book) 1984
Paddington at the Fair (picture book) 1985
Paddington's Painting Exhibition (picture book) 1985; revised as Paddington's Art Exhibition, 1986
On Four Wheels: Paddington's London [Paddington's Wheel Book] [with Karen Bond] (picture book) 1986
Paddington at the Airport [with Karen Bond] (picture book) 1986
Paddington Minds the House [Paddington Spring Cleans, Paddington Cleans Up] (picture book) 1986
Paddington at the Palace (picture book) 1986
Paddington Posts a Letter [Paddington Mails a Letter] [with Karen Bond] (picture book) 1986
Paddington's Clock Book [with Karen Bond] (picture book) 1986
Paddington and the Marmalade Maze (picture book) 1987
Paddington's Busy Day (picture book) 1987
A Mouse Called Thursday (story book) 1988
Paddington's Magical Christmas (picture book) 1988
Paddington's ABC (picture book) 1990
Paddington's 123 (picture book) 1990
Paddington Meets the Queen (picture book) 1991
Paddington Rides On (picture book) 1991
Paddington's Colors (picture book) 1991
Paddington's Opposites (picture book) 1991
A Day by the Sea (picture book) 1992
Paddington Breaks the Peace (picture book) 1992
Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise (picture book) 1997
Paddington Bear All Day (picture book) 1998
Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival (picture book) 1998
Paddington Goes to Market (picture book) 1998
A Paddington Treasury (collection) 2000
†Olga Moves House (picture book) 2001
*Seven previously published stories.
†35 stories from 11 different Paddington books.
Michael Bond (essay date June 1980)
SOURCE: Bond, Michael. "Jumping in at the Deep End: On Writing for Children." Horn Book Magazine 56, no. 3 (June 1980): 335-39.
[In the following essay, Bond discusses how he came to be a writer of children's books and his approach to writing them.]
The most precious thing you can give a child is your time, and to my way of thinking one of the most rewarding ways of spending that time, at least when children are very young, is in the sharing of a book. For if storybooks have any value at all beyond sheer entertainment, then surely it's in helping to open up new horizons, feeding the imagination on the way, and perhaps once in a while making the reader stop short and see things in a different light.
I was lucky enough to be brought up by parents who read to me when I was small, and I never went to bed without a story. Books were part of the furniture of life. I was weaned on picture books; nurtured on Coral Island, Riders of the Purple Sage, and Swiss Family Robinson; and grew up with The Magnet (a popular and long-running British school series). I tried reading Swiss Family Robinson again recently and didn't get to the end—it all seemed rather priggish, but at the time it was a magical book. Unputdownable as they say, to be devoured time and time again under the bedclothes with the aid of a flashlight.
If there is something magical about reading, there is also a feeling of excitement about slipping a blank sheet of paper into the typewriter and embarking on a voyage of exploration which, one hopes, others will enjoy, too. And that's really what writing or storytelling is all about, for if the writer doesn't feel the excitement or believe in his characters, there is no earthly reason why the reader should.
I am a writer because that's what I want to be, but a writer of children's books and of television series by accident rather than by design. I started writing in 1945, when I was in Egypt with the Army. My very first story was sold to a magazine called London Opinion, and I can still remember the feeling of disbelief I had when the news reached me in the form of a check for seven guineas. There's been nothing quite like it since. (Cashing the check was another matter; I didn't have a bank account, the Army Post Office didn't wish to know about it, and none of the local traders had ever heard the word "guineas" before—it took all of three weeks!) But I was a writer.
Then, after years of writing adult stories, newspaper articles, and radio and television scripts, I happened to write a radio play about a small boy who swallowed a capsule he'd found, became radioactive, and interfered with all the television sets in the neighborhood. My agent suggested it might make a good children's play (it didn't in the end, for fear of the bad example it might set). But a seed had been sown, which led me into a series of children's plays for radio and television, and after that into children's books, so that I have now written some fifty books and nearly a hundred television scripts.
I embarked on these ventures armed with the same tools of the trade I had always used—a pile of blank paper, a typewriter, and a reasonable vocabulary—plus the knowledge of writing and the tricks I had picked up on the way. Looking back, I suppose my greatest asset was a total unawareness of what I was about to do. I hadn't been "got at" and had no preconceived notions. I was like a small child on a beach, who picks up a stick, draws a shape in the wet sand, and says, "Look Daddy—a battleship!" I hadn't read a children's book in almost twenty years. At that time I had no children of my own. I didn't even know many children, and I had no particular feelings about those I did meet. If they were nice, I liked them. If they were very nice, I liked them very much. And if they were nasty, I thought they were horrid. (I still do for that matter, although these days I take more trouble to find out why they are horrid—it might be because of something I've said, or haven't said.)
So when I wrote A Bear Called Paddington, I jumped in at the deep end. I began at page one and plowed on quickly and steadily, a chapter a day, until I reached the end of chapter eight and found myself with a book on my hands. On the way, I drew on memories of my own childhood, on the sort of characters I liked hearing about or reading about when I was small and who lived in the world as I knew it then. Which explains why many of my characters have a slightly prewar air about them. I mean, Paddington is very much a bear of our times—he has adventures in laundromats and supermarkets without turning a hair, let alone a whisker; but if he tried to make a telephone call and came across a vandalized telephone booth, he'd give it a very hard stare, indeed, because it would be totally outside his experience. When he goes home at night, it is to a warm fire and toast and crumpets; one can almost hear the muffin man's bell, and everything is safe and peaceful.
One of my other characters, Olga da Polga, leads a pretty secure life, too. Although she lives in a hutch, she is able to rely largely on her own fantasies for adventures, and when she does dream, it is mostly about days of yore and knights in shining armor. In the Thursday books Thursday, the mouse, and his friend Harris manage to get themselves involved in international crime of a fairly high order, but their adversaries have echoes of Dr. Fu Man Chu, and they are much more likely to be threatened with death by being tied to a railway line in the path of the 4:40 express than by anything more sinisterly up-to-date.
I lean pretty heavily on humanized and fictionalized animals for my characters. It just happens that way. Paddington to me is much more real than he would be if he were a small boy. In fact, if he were a small boy, I don't think the book would work at all. With animals you can have the best of both worlds; you can combine the sophistication of an adult with the naïveté of a small child.
A small child could never enter a restaurant armed with a Food Guide and be mistaken for a visiting Inspector, but Paddington can, and has, and, I hope, will continue to do so. He is a vehicle ("I'm a vehicle!" exclaims Paddington hotly, "I'm not a vehicle—I'm a bear!" I can hear him saying it!), a vehicle for setting up situations in which we can all recognize echoes from our own lives. Will he get away with it? If so, how? We are on his side, because there, but for the grace of God, go I. So, with his strong sense of right and wrong and a built-in feeling for justice, he is representing us, not against the forces of evil—that would be putting it too strongly—but against the strange rules and regulations and behavior patterns with which we poor humans saddle ourselves.
Then there is the question of social scale. Most of my characters inhabit a fairly middle-class world. One can only write from one's own experience, and although I have known what it's like to be without money, I've never known real poverty and could no more write about it from the heart than I could about the opposite end of the social stratum. I would have got my knowledge from other people's books, and so it would be secondhand.
That is not to say one doesn't invent—places, names, characters, situations, plots—but through it all there must be a hard core of truth and practicality. There are certain rules to be observed. Disciplines of form and shape and structure. The beginning, the middle, and the end. I probably spend more time over the opening and closing paragraphs then I ever do over the middle, trying to arouse the reader's interest from the start and making him feel at the end that it was all worthwhile. The middle is more mathematical.
Once the wheels are set in motion, I hardly ever think of the audience. The act of writing in itself is hard enough without worrying about the reader. The fun is in dreaming up an idea. The big moment is in starting to commit it to paper. The chore is in tearing it up again, going over it not once but maybe a dozen times. Which is why many writers do anything to put off the evil moment—they know their very first words will be wrong and that a dreadful depression will set in. In the end, I think, most writers can only write to please themselves. You can only write as you feel and hope that when you've finished, someone—somewhere—will like it or get something from it; then you will have communicated. As a writer I take heart from something Ernest Hemingway once said—that a writer's mistakes are his style. If you work at something too much, you reach a point beyond which it becomes too pure and faultless and, in consequence, rather dull.
You feed various facts and ideas into your mind, leave them to simmer for a while (a few minutes, hours, weeks, or maybe even years—I'm a great believer in the subconscious) and wait until it's on the boil. From that moment on something else takes over; ideas merge with other ideas and change their shape or form. When it's finished, deep down, as with most things in life, a tiny voice will tell you whether it is right or not; and you ignore that voice at your peril.
I think children hate being written—or talked—down to, and with my books for older children I never bother too much about using difficult words, provided the meaning is clear. Children often enjoy the sound a word makes, even if they're not too clear as to its exact meaning.
All the same, when it comes to writing for very young children, it would be silly to generalize and say one never thinks of them. The limitation of their experience imposes limitations on the kind of plot one can use and on its complexity. Small children like things in black and white; their minds are too undeveloped to appreciate the many shades of gray in between. Right should triumph over wrong, and evil or bad behavior should not go unpunished. Things should be left tidy, or there should be a clear implication that they will be tidied up by the person responsible. I try to avoid any suggestion of cruelty or of hurting other people's feelings. Because reading at this age is often a shared experience, however, it's possible to slip things in. Laughter and enjoyment are infectious, and if the reader is enjoying a book, the enjoyment will communicate itself to the listener. I would go further and say that it's essential for the reader to enjoy the book, for there is nothing worse than reading aloud as a chore, and in the end it is so off-putting, it probably does more harm than good.
Now, I have just finished another Paddington book. So, touch wood, the fountain has not yet run dry.
A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON (1958)
Virginia Haviland (review date February 1961)
SOURCE: Haviland, Virginia. Horn Book Magazine 37, no. 1 (February 1961): 53.
[In A Bear Called Paddington ] A very small bear, English-speaking but from Darkest Peru, settles into a London household and endears himself to its two children, their parents, and housekeeper. Listeners devoted to another small bear will most certainly like him, although he is no Pooh. Paddington got his name because he was found on the Paddington railway platform in London, wearing a sign, "Please look after this bear. Thank you." He was adopted at once and came to prove useful domestically, in spite of small disasters. Peggy Fortnum's pen-and-ink sketches present a winsome little bear in bewitching poses and costume. Fun for reading aloud to devotees of this style of fantasy.
Publishers Weekly (review date 9 September 1968)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 194, no. 11 (9 September 1968): 66.
"Please look after this bear. Thank you," said the sign around the bear from Darkest Peru's neck [A Bear Called Paddington ], as he stood forlorn in Paddington Station in London. And that is just what the Brown family did—or what they tried to do—but Paddington took a lot of looking after. A delight from beginning to end.
School Library Journal (review date January 2000)
SOURCE: School Library Journal 46, no. 1 (January 2000): 52.
[In A Bear Called Paddington ] An English-speaking bear from "darkest Peru" finds himself caught in a variety of preposterous situations. The book's success, and that of its eight sequels, rests on its gently humorous tone and its respect for the child reader.
MORE ABOUT PADDINGTON (1959)
Horn Book Guide (review date spring 1998)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 9, no. 1 (spring 1998): 68.
In this updated version of the second book [More about Paddington ] in Bond's popular series, Paddington spends an autumn getting in and out of humorous scrapes—"decorating" his room, playing detective, wreaking havoc in a swanky department store as he shops for Christmas. Little has changed from the previous edition; Paddington remains as genial, and as endearing, as ever.
PADDINGTON HELPS OUT (1960)
Virginia Haviland (review date October 1961)
SOURCE: Haviland, Virginia. Horn Book Magazine 37, no. 5 (October 1961): 443.
Children to whom Paddington, the little bear from Darkest Peru, has become a beloved character have wholeheartedly accepted the whimsicalities of his life with a family in London. Paddington's outgoing friendliness and genuine spirit of helpfulness get him into extreme predicaments this time [Paddington Helps Out ] with Do-It-Yourself carpentry, the launderette, bidding at an auction, and making dumplings—the kind of fun children delight in. The author is extraordinarily fortunate in his illustrator; each drawing adds to the story's fun and to Paddington's personality.
PADDINGTON ABROAD (1961)
Mary M. Burns (review date April 1973)
SOURCE: Burns, Mary M. Horn Book Magazine 49, no. 2 (April 1973): 160.
Confusion becomes chaos when Paddington, that ingratiating small bear from "Darkest Peru," crosses the English Channel with his adopted family for a quiet summer holiday in France [Paddington Abroad ]. From his initial preparations, which include the mastery of such useful French phrases as "'My Grandmother has fallen out of the Stage-coach and needs attention,'" to the grand finale—his participation in the "Tour de France" professional bicycle race—Paddington bumbles delightfully from one absurd escapade to another. But, as Mrs. Bird comments, "'That's the best of being a bear … Things happen to bears.'" A choice, light-hearted collection for Paddington fans.
PADDINGTON AT LARGE (1962)
Horn Book Guide (review date fall 1998)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 9, no. 2 (fall 1998): 316.
Paddington remains as ingenuous and endearing as ever in these short stories [Paddington at Large ], whether he's riding a runaway lawnmower, trying his paw at taffy making, or appearing as a contestant on a TV quiz show. The seven episodes collected here are accompanied by loose, expressive pen-and-ink drawings.
Shelle Rosenfeld (review date August 1998)
SOURCE: Rosenfeld, Shelle. School Library Journal 94, no. 22 (August 1998): 2002.
Under a bright, newly designed dust jacket lies the same old beloved Paddington [Paddington at Large ], the always dignified, well-meaning, but troublemaking bear from "darkest Peru." Young readers will enjoy this reissue of the 1962 classic, which includes some of Paddington's best adventures (or misadventures, depending) in the extensive Paddington canon, such as his wild ride on a power lawnmower and his appearance on a game show, where his unusual logic wins him the jackpot. Paddington is, understandably, a favorite character for kids, one they can truly relate to, as his best-laid, well-intentioned plans somehow go topsy-turvy. As always, Bond's prose is fun to read, with the solemn, serious Paddington providing humorous contrast to the absurd goings-on around him. Peggy Fortnum's spare, evocative, often witty line drawings are as wonderful as ever, more representative of Paddington's character than the new jacket art, which makes him look like a cute, cuddly stuffed toy—a portrait with which Paddington himself would take issue.
HERE COMES THURSDAY! (1966)
Times Literary Supplement (review date 24 November 1966)
SOURCE: Times Literary Supplement, no. 3378 (24 November 1966).
Mice are certainly in this year; Michael Bond has, it is true, brought his old bear back from Peruvian retirement and, in Paddington at Work, has given him some odd jobs to fall down on; but Mr. Bond has also embarked on an all mouse fantasy, Here Comes Thursday!, a far more ambitious project because he has at last cut those tiresome human tow-ropes and confidently created a minuscule Borrowers-like mouse world. Thursday, an orphan mouse who is to be adopted as the twentieth child of the Cupboardosites, arrives in their organ loft by balloon, and this flight plays an unexpected part in saving the family grocery business which has been put into direct jeopardy by the modern help-yourself ideas of a visiting American mouse cousin.… Thursday [invites] a belly laugh; … take a … bow.
Booklist (review date 1 January 1968)
SOURCE: Booklist 64, no. 9 (1 January 1968): 541.
A runaway, orphaned mouse riding on a distance-contest balloon lands in the churchyard of St. Mary's in the Valley [Here Comes Thursday! ]. Named Thursday in honor of the day on which he arrived, he is temporarily adopted by the Cupboardosities, a large, friendly family of mice that live in the organ loft cupboard. Although Thursday soon displays a propensity for creating crises and his error on a sign for Papa Mouse's newly Americanized self-service grocery has disastrous results, he finally wins approval as a first-class Cupboardosity. The humor here is more subtle than that in the author's Paddington stories but sophisticated young readers will find it an utterly delicious whimsical tale.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date March 1968)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 21, no. 7 (March 1968): 106.
When an orphan from the Home for Waif-mice and Stray-mice is found, after a ride hitched on a balloon [Here Comes Thursday! ], by the mice of the Peck family, he is named Thursday and accepted into the fold as one of the Cupboardosities—mice who live in an organ-loft cupboard. Thursday is a young mouse of strong character but immature judgment, and he gets into a series of scrapes, vindicating himself in the end. The story has the fluent style and light humor that have made the author's books about Paddington so popular, but it lacks the contrast between an engaging animal character and the realism of human family life that adds a pleasantly nonsensical note.
Elinor S. Cullen (review date 15 March 1968)
SOURCE: Cullen, Elinor S. Library Journal 93, no. 6 (15 March 1968): 1301.
In this story [Here Comes Thursday! ] about Thursday the mouse and his large adopted family, the author of the popular stories about Paddington the Bear has once again demonstrated his ability to successfully balance animal and human traits, so that the animal characters are readily open to reader identification and their mundane activities are made to seem interesting. Two badly stereotyped foreigners—a mad German scientist with a Katzenjammer Kids accent and a Texas tourist cousin—intrude jarringly on the otherwise mild yet pleasant adventures of the amiable British mice. On the whole, the book seems best suited to doling out in small read-aloud portions just before bedtime.
PADDINGTON GOES TO TOWN (1968)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 November 1968)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 36, no. 21 (1 November 1968): 1216.
[Paddington Goes to Town ] Wherein Paddington 'ushes at a wedding, jams up a golf match, upsets a psychiatrist, effects an accidental cure, serves baked elastic. … A few of the escapades fall flat, and the head man/head man, head-shrinker/hat stretcher contretemps that sends Paddington to the psychiatrist may be over the heads of many kids—but the bear double-talking the doctor is side-splitting, and others are almost as funny. It's all a matter of how you rate Paddington, who's lost none of his guilelessness in the sketches although his powers of obfuscation are sometimes strained in the stories.
Nancy Berkowitz (review date 15 January 1969)
SOURCE: Berkowitz, Nancy. Library Journal 94, no. 2 (15 January 1969): 284.
Welcome back Paddington [Paddington Goes to Town ], his paws sticky from marmalade sandwiches, ready to "help" in any occasion and creating merry chaos wherever he goes. His new adventures include being an usher in a wedding, a caddy at a golf match and a cook at a formal dinner party; he outpsyches a psychiatrist and takes a trip to town to see the Christmas decorations. His old friends are here—the Brown family, Mr. Curry, their irascible neighbor, and Mr. Gruber, the antique dealer, and new friends include a famous doctor. Paddington remains his earnest, literal self, a bear from darkest Peru trying his best to get along in a world of unpredictable humans, and Peggy Fortnum's black-and-white illustrations help to make this one of the funniest books in the series.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date March 1969)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 22, no. 7 (March 1969): 107.
Again the adopted bear of a London family gets into trouble [in Paddington Goes to Town ]; again he emerges unscathed. The amusing drawings express to perfection the spirit of Paddington, amiable and antic. Here, for example, the over-zealous bear misinterprets the role of usher at a wedding; he 'ushes the guests into dead silence and almost causes the whole thing to be called off because he has carelessly slipped the ring on his own finger and it is stuck. From this, as from the subsequent episodes, Paddington emerges subdued—but not much. The breezy style, the humor, and the natural dialogue are as consistent and as spontaneous as they were in the preceding volumes.
THURSDAY RIDES AGAIN (1968)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 June 1969)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 37, no. 12 (15 June 1969): 631.
[Thursday Rides Again ] … but it isn't worth the trip. Thursday, whose first appearance (1967) was far than refreshing, returns with his adopted family of cupboard mice and more pedestrian pratfalls. He and Harris (now sporting a wooden leg because of that unsuccessful moon shot) build a charabanc and take the Cupboardosities on a Kent holiday but a gang of transparent smugglers almost does them in. Baron Munchen engineers a lot of it, with ze same offensive accent and ze speech that out of order is, and Big Jim is a bigwig villain in the dated black tie (and tail) tradition. A lesser mousetrap.
THURSDAY AHOY! (1969)
Listener (review date 6 November 1969)
SOURCE: Listener 82, no. 2119 (6 November 1969): 640.
As Bertie Wooster almost said: 'Jolly birds, kids.' Always ready for a laugh, even at the unlikeliest moments, it seems strange that they should have so few really funny books written specially for them. Perhaps it's a form of adult revenge—sour memories of unlikeliest moments.
Out of 150 children's books, junior school age, heaped on my couch for current analysis, only one in ten was even meant to be funny. Folk and fairy tales came in a spate; so did the usual cardboard epics of jungle, Arctic snows and racing circuit. Historical and space adventures were a trifle down compared with recent years; school stories came—predictably enough—nowhere; and mercifully there were signs of a check in the rise of those atrociously trendy books for older girls about the perils of coffeebars and wild parties—written, it always seems, by middle-aged ladies with thin memories and thick notebooks. But I was looking for laughs, so—keeping a special watch for such obvious pointers as style of illustration and blurbish hints at 'humour', 'gaiety', 'fun', 'comedy', 'chuckle', 'amusing', 'witty' (this came with 'poignant' and should have warned me at once)—I mustered my short list. Perhaps I'd better point out that the average children's editor's and author's idea of roaring comedy is still to have either a. dressed-up animals behaving with middle-class solemnity, or b. historical characters exhibiting modern (well, give or take 50 years) middle-class fussiness over gadgets. Over-the-shoulder stuff, you might say, in which some daughter-of-the-vicarage writer winks conspiratorially at some son-of-the-manse reviewer or book-buyer.…
To say that Thursday Ahoy! —about mice who build and run a showboat—is even sub-Wind-in-the-Willowish is to be too generous. 'A Puff in the Privets' might be more accurate. Mr Bond's Paddington stories have been known to make me laugh out loud. Why not these Thursday things? Maybe it's something to do with solidity of character, which the gruff eccentric bear has more of in his left hind paw than all these twittering little beasties put together.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 July 1970)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 38, no. 13 (1 July 1970): 679.
Thursday the mouse mocking grown-up cliches with a grown-up repertoire of parodies and a babyish bag of rip-raucous tricks [Thursday Ahoy! ]. The type-casts begin when the Grumblies (rodentese for people) return, causing a dismaying "Loss of Vision" (tele-) for the Cupboardosities—"Where else," mourns Harris who, misses the screen, "would you find Grumblies no higher than a wedge of Roquefort, safely behind glass, take 'em or leave 'em?" They leave 'em, for a new scheme, a showboat, full steam (thanks to Baron Munchen, the engineer) ahead to Paradise Island which, little do they know, is the H.Q. of SCREAM—Society for the Capture, Removal and Exploitation of All Mice. The cruise features smart entertainment by Harris who fancies such quips as "What did the mouse say when his tail got shut in the cupboard door?" ("It won't be long now" and then "Taraaa!" for good measure) … and it also includes "Dial-a-meal" whereby 2-8-1 yields avocado stuffed with prawns—when it's working, which it isn't because, as the Baron booms, "Ze rubbish mit ze food has become tangled." On the Island itself more of same, some a Bond spoof of Bond, some a take-after-Milne (see the chapter names, eg #7—"In which Uncle Washington burns some Cakes and Thursday Cooks up a Plan"). A mouseketiered jumble with uppercrust undercuts.
Katherine Heylman (review date 15 December 1970)
SOURCE: Heylman, Katherine. Library Journal 95, no. 22 (15 December 1970): 4344-45.
Seeking to escape the mysterious machinations of SCREAM (Society for the Capture, Removal and Exploitation of All Mice), Thursday and family [Thursday Ahoy! ], plus Harris the vole and the inventive Baron Munchen (who food chutes mit garbage chutes up mixes), outfit and launch a Show Boat. A suave agent pilots them right into a penal colony and onto a giant treadmill. Thursday's escape and subsequent daring rescue of the others leads to an inconclusive ending … is "J" a double agent, or a double-double agent? Adequate escape literature where the earlier books (Here Comes Thursday!, 1968, and Thursday Rides Again, 1969) are available, this pastiche of James Bond, Dickens, and Wind in the Willows results more in caricatures than characters, and the heavy-handed humor is a clear case of Horace's mountain laboring to bring forth a ridiculus mus.
PADDINGTON TAKES THE AIR (1970)
Times Literary Supplement (review date 11 December 1970)
SOURCE: "Teddy Bears' Picnic." Times Literary Supplement, no. 3589 (11 December 1970): 1458.
Following Milne, it now seems traditional to use the bear in fiction as the embodiment of a genially tolerant view of human nature. His virtues are phenomenal, though frequently hidden from himself, and his vices, though apparent, are always of the pleasantest kind. Sometimes an author with a sharper vision contrives to overcome the cosiness of the teddy-bear image and then we meet a rather more special kind of bear, such as Mary Plain, vain, flirtatious, affectionate, inquisitive and exhibitionist, the quintessence of a small girl, or Paddington, who, one cannot help feeling, has a great deal more than a surname in common with William Brown.…
With the appearance of the ninth book of his adventures, you might expect the Paddington magic to have worn a bit thin, but amazingly the old mixture of innocence, guile, tenacious enthusiasm, optimism and an unerring instinct for disaster turns out as fresh and funny as ever. The successive Paddington books have added substance and credibility to Mr. Bond's original creation instead of flogging a good idea to death. In Paddington Takes the Air, the hero's feats include feeding stickjaw to a dentist, successfully tackling an all-in wrestler and reducing a charity ball to chaos in two minutes flat. As usual, hard stares, marmalade sandwiches and the famous hat are all introduced at dramatically appropriate moments.
Publishers Weekly (review date 22 March 1971)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 199, no. 12 (22 March 1971): 53.
Take an engaging Peruvian bear, throw in some emergency marmalade sandwiches and you come up with—well, there is no simple answer when that bear is called Paddington. His latest misadventures [Paddington Takes the Air ] include a disastrous visit to the dentist, and equally disastrous attempts at tailoring, horsemanship, boxing, crime detection, gourmandise and dancing. All in all, there is never a dull moment when Paddington is around, as his many admirers will gleefully agree.
Sybilla Cook (review date July 1971)
SOURCE: Cook, Sybilla. Library Journal 96, no. 13 (July 1971): 2373.
The little bear from Darkest Peru is back again in a new series of improbable adventures [Paddington Takes the Air ]. With his innocence, good will, and supreme self-confidence, Paddington causes chaos wherever he goes. However, children are delighted by the fact that his blundering efforts always bring about satisfactory conclusions. In this collection, Paddington wins a horse show, acts as a detective, stays in the ring with a champion prizefighter, and attends a charity ball—all with complete aplomb and with his marmalade sandwiches. These latest stories will enchant his fans and further enhance his reputation.
MICHAEL BOND'S BOOK OF BEARS (1971)
Ilene Cooper (review date 15 October 1992)
SOURCE: Cooper, Ilene. Booklist 89, no. 4 (15 October 1992): 441.
Although it [Michael Bond's Book of Bears ] will have great appeal as a bookstore item, libraries, too, may want to have this collection of teddy bear stories written by some of the subject's favorite proponents, among them Jane Hissey, Else Minarik, and, of course, Michael Bond. Many of the illustrations that accompany the tales are the original pictures. For instance, Maurice Sendak's 1957 artwork illustrates "Little Bear's Wish," looking as fresh as it did when originally published. This handsome edition features 14 stories, each with memorable art. A choice with definite bear appeal.
Elaine Lesh Morgan (review date December 1992)
SOURCE: Morgan, Elaine Lesh. School Library Journal 38, no. 12 (December 1992): 76.
An uneven collection of stories [Michael Bond's Book of Bears ] about bears who get into mischief of various kinds. Some of the selections are good, such as a new Paddington tale and the reprinted stories by Jane Hissey, Else H. Minarik, Enid Blyton, and Jane Robinson; others are fair or below standard. The retelling of "The Three Bears" is very awkward. After she falls through the bottom of the chair, "… Goldilocks said a swearword." The story ends with, "Perhaps she broke her neck in the fall. Or perhaps she ran into the woods and got lost. Or perhaps a policeman found her and took her away to the police station." Other stories are sweet and sentimental. The colorful illustrations are full of lively, lovable teddy bears done by a variety of artists including Jane Hissey, Maurice Sendak, and Ray Mutimer. Additional fare for large collections.
Horn Book Guide (review date spring 1993)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 4, no. 1 (spring 1993): 129.
This collection [Michael Bond's Book of Bears ] suffers from too much variety, Bond presents his own bear, Paddington, but also includes Maurice Sendak's Little Bear, Jane Hissey's bears, and several other interpretations of bears. Although full of quality stories and interesting illustrations, the book has little unity because of the disparate styles in art and text.
THE TALES OF OLGA DA POLGA (1971)
Charlotte Burton (review date 15 April 1973)
SOURCE: Burton, Charlotte. Library Journal 98, no. 8 (15 April 1973): 1384.
The author of the popular Paddington stories here [The Tales of Olga da Polga ] creates a new character—a charming, young, female guinea pig, Olga da Polga. Karen chooses Olga in a pet shop—"'The one with the cheeky look and the oats sticking to her whiskers.'" Olga observes but can't always figure out Karen's family's routines and activities, the change of seasons, and holidays. Her fantasy tales, such as the ones which explain how guinea pigs got rosettes, why they squeak, and why they have no tails, will delight children, and her adventures will be enjoyed by young listeners as well as readers in fourth and fifth grade. Bond's style is lively, smooth, and pleasant with many humorous touches. In addition, the good care Olga receives clearly but unobtrusively shows young children how to take care of a guinea pig.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date November 1973)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 27, no. 3 (November 1973): 38.
The creator of Paddington uses the same format for Olga da Polga [The Tales of Olga da Polga ], episodic chapters loosely strung together and just right for reading aloud to children for whom the vocabulary is too difficult to cope with alone. Olga is a guinea pig who thinks like a human being, and who talks to other animals, but who—unlike Paddington—does not communicate with people; she behaves like a guinea pig and is treated like one. Here the humor is not so much in Olga's adventures, since she is hutchbound, but in her personality. Complacently confident of her own charms and given to outrageous invention when it suits her purpose, Olga's tales are told to other animals with such assurance that they believe her impromptu fibs readily. Not as much action here as in the Paddington stories, but the humor and vitality of the writing make Olga and her tall tales highly amusing.
THE DAY THE ANIMALS WENT ON STRIKE (1972)
Times Literary Supplement (review date 3 November 1972)
SOURCE: Times Literary Supplement, no. 3687 (3 November 1972): 1327.
The deadly effect of routine is further explored in Michael Bond's entertaining new story, The Day the Animals Went on Strike. The animals here are upset not by their unchanging daily life, but by the appalling regularity with which visitors to the zoo churn out the same old jokes about them: the elephant's feet would make good wastepaper baskets; the camel has the hump; no gnus is good gnus. They decide to take strike action—killing the jokes dead by sitting still and staring into space. The visitors fail to understand what it is all about, but the animals derive a good deal of pleasure from observing the antics of the humans, who go to great lengths in trying to provoke them to some kind of reaction.
Evelyn Stewart (review date 15 January 1973)
SOURCE: Stewart, Evelyn. Library Journal 98, no. 2 (15 January 1973): 251.
Weary of people making the same jokes, striking zoo animals sit down and stare instead of entertaining visitors [The Day the Animals Went on Strike ]. After a day of meditation, they conclude that people resemble zoo animals and that most of the trite comments are true. Somehow, these thoughts allow the animals to return to normal activities the next day. The color illustrations alternating with black-and-white spreads are acceptable, but most children prefer real-looking animals such as those by Brian Wildsmith. As a read-aloud, this may lead to discussion of seeing yourself as others see you, but the story is only average and not a necessary purchase.
PADDINGTON'S GARDEN (1972)
Horn Book Guide (review date spring 1994)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 5, no. 1 (spring 1994): 26.
When Paddington is given his own plot of land for a garden [Paddington's Garden ], he is at a loss as to how to design it. A series of incidents involving marmalade and cement result in a beautiful rock garden that everyone enjoys. The contrived tale, accompanied by cartoonlike illustrations, is wrapped up in a satisfactory conclusion.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 December 2001)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 69, no. 23 (1 December 2001): 1681.
For over four decades, generations of readers worldwide have embraced the bumbling, lovable Paddington, who hasn't changed much over the years. Here [Paddington in the Garden ], he once again lands himself in a bit of a scrape and once again finds an affable way to get out of it. The story opens with Paddington making a list of all the splendid things in his life for which he is thankful, including the Browns' lovely garden. The adventure begins when the Browns give Paddington his own tiny plot of land to plant as he pleases. Not sure how to proceed, Paddington begins researching how best to utilize his newfound land. It isn't long before his knack for mishaps has him climbing the scaffolding of a building site. It is his signature love of homemade marmalade and the help of a friendly foreman that eventually sees Paddington out of his predicament By creating an unusual garden Paddington finds he has yet another item to add to his already lengthy list of splendid things. Bond and [R. W.] Alley (Paddington Bear Goes to the Hospital, ) combine their talents once again to successfully introduce Paddington to younger readers. The trimmed-down text makes this a perfect place for Alley's jovial and detailed watercolor illustrations and an amusing way to look forward to the advent of spring gardening.
Carolyn Phelan (review date 15 April 2002)
SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 98, no. 16 (15 April 2002): 1405.
Gardening sounds like a pastoral pastime, but when Paddington Bear is the gardener [Paddington Bear in the Garden ], children can count on complications and, of course, a happy ending. After climbing a ladder at a nearby building site to get a better look at his new garden plot, Paddington returns to the ground to find a pile of concrete on the spot where he had left his precious jar of marmalade. The workers are helpful, but the result is a pile of chunky, golden concrete lumps. Inspired by the materials at hand, Paddington plants a rock garden and wins a gold star. Young children who have enjoyed the previous picture books from Bond and [R. W] Alley will find this mild adventure as enjoyable as the rest. Alley's endearing ink-and-watercolor illustrations offer expressive drawings in pleasing colors and plenty of diverting details. Not an essential purchase, but an amiable diversion for young Paddington fans.
OLGA MEETS HER MATCH (1973)
Nicholas Tucker (review date 25 May 1973)
SOURCE: Tucker, Nicholas. New Statesman 85, no. 2201 (25 May 1973): 778.
Perhaps the hardest job of all in children's literature is catering for the younger reader, and there are still few really good books for this in-between, 7-11 age group. The writer for beginners can always expect to summon up dazzling full-colour illustrations to share his text and sometimes distract from its paucity; the writer for older children knows that he is in direct competition with adult books for the teenage reader, and accordingly must sometimes raise his sights so as to finish with a book which will satisfy both markets. But the author aiming at the middle years is in more uncertain territory, with an audience less predictable when it comes to current fashions, literary or otherwise, but eager to be entertained and impatient when not. If our author has not got just the right touch, he can all too often end up shunned by every side, like an over-enthusiastic uncle at a children's party, full of out-of-date slang, weak jokes and tall stories sadly embarrassing to all.
One of the masters of this field, though typically not always popular with critics with an eye to finer things, is Michael Bond. Now, just as Worrals of the WAAF was once invented as a female counterpart to Biggles (and also to speed up wartime recruiting), Bond's Paddington Bear is balanced by Olga da Polga, a lady guinea-pig. The latest story about her, Olga Meets her Match, is written with economy and a pleasing style. Above all, apart from a weakness for bad puns, Mr Bond can be very funny, a rare quality in most children's books, having to compete as they do with the lurid depths of children's own humour at this age. Olga's animal friends, whether acting out fantasies drawn from TV serials, or vainly trying to protect their frail dignities from one another, make a good read, and each chapter has a story of its own, most convenient for bedtime reading.
Publishers Weekly (review date 2 July 1973)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 204, no. 1 (2 July 1973): 79.
A sequel to The Tales of Olga da Polga, this story [Olga Meets Her Match ] finds the little guinea pig meeting and mating with Boris, a dashing Russian that her owners (the Sawdust people) take her to meet at the seashore. The author of the "Paddington" stories has an appealing style and he makes this tale of the pregnant pet and her friends convincing and fun. It's a joy once again to listen in on Olga, Noel the cat, Fangio the hedgehog and a newcomer, Venables the toad.
Beryl Robinson (review date April 1974)
SOURCE: Robinson, Beryl. Horn Book Magazine 50, no. 2 (April 1974): 147.
In a second collection of stories about the captivating guinea pig, Olga da Polga, [Olga Meets Her Match ] two new characters enliven the scene—Boris, another guinea pig, whose soaring imagination rivals Olga's; and Venables, an elderly toad, who moves into the garden after a pond has been installed. Among other events, Olga matches wits with Boris, solves the mystery of the cat's disappearance, barely escapes drowning, and gives birth to three small "furs and descendants." These tales should be great fun for reading aloud.
Booklist (review date 1 September 1975)
SOURCE: Booklist 72, no. 1 (1 September 1975): 37.
The lovable heroine of The Tales of Olga da Polga returns in fine form [Olga meets her match ], meets her match—and mate—a storytelling guinea pig named Boris, and celebrates her first birthday with the delivery of triplets. In between, Olga treats the reader to a few outlandish fables and comical adventures such as those enjoyed in the earlier book. Olga is again brought to life with Helweg's suitably jaunty black-and-white drawings. Altogether solid entertainment.
Cynthia Stilley (review date October 1975)
SOURCE: Stilley, Cynthia. School Library Journal 22, no. 2 (October 1975): 88-9.
Sequel to Tales of Olga Da Polga, here are more engaging episodes in the life of a busy guinea pig [Olga Meets Her Match ]. While on vacation, Olga visits Boris, whose storytelling ability matches her own (he tells her that he was once a Russian prince but was turned into a guinea pig). Returning home, Olga has lots to tell her friends, and in this book a new character enters—Venables, the frog. The episodes are consistently clever; the characterizations are strong. Only the ending is a disappointment: Olga, who unknowingly has become pregnant and remains ignorant of her condition until the last, delivers three babies. She is much too sharp a guinea pig for such sloppy planning.
PADDINGTON AT THE CIRCUS (1973)
Horn Book Guide (review date fall 1993)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 4, no. 2 (fall 1993): 250.
The prose of this simple story of Paddington Bear [Paddington at the Circus ] lacks the subtlety of longer tales about the bear, and the illustrations are flat, but the book introduces Paddington's antics to a young audience.
Horn Book Guide (review date fall 2000)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 11, no. 2 (fall 2000): 262.
This picture book adventure [Paddington at the Circus ] follows Paddington as he attends his first circus and inadvertently becomes a part of the tightrope act. All ends happily with Paddington in bed contemplating a future as a clown. Readers are assumed to bring some previous affection for the bear, and there is little character development in the story itself. However, the comical illustrations and outrageous situation have child appeal.
PADDINGTON ON TOP (1974)
Catherine Blanton (review date February 1985)
SOURCE: Blanton, Catherine. School Library Journal 31, no. 6 (February 1985): 55.
Based on Michael Bond's book (1974) [Paddington on Top ], chapters have been adapted to the audiovisual format by Bond himself, using live-action photography so that they faithfully follow the book. Aside from Paddington and Aunt Lucy, the other people are paper-doll characters. The bear and some objects (e.g., table settings, binoculars, dinghy) are real or three-dimensional. The strips are well narrated by Sir Michael Hordern, the distinguished stage and film actor, who gives the stories authenticity with his British accent. As well as serving as good enrichment material, the series also offers an opportunity to compare two cultures—American and English. School and public libraries will find the strips useful.
OLGA CARRIES ON (1976)
Jennifer Chandler (review date 1 October 1976)
SOURCE: Chandler, Jennifer. "Of Mice and Guinea-Pigs." Times Literary Supplement, no. 3890 (1 October 1976): 1248.
Michael Bond's third book about Olga da Polga [Olga Carries on ] is, like the others, a comedy of animal manners in which real and imaginary adventures mingle. Unlike his earlier creation, Paddington Bear, Olga is not wholly a humanized animal but a real guinea-pig. Some of her adventures not only could happen to a guinea-pig, but actually did happen to the one belonging to the author's daughter, and the stories are grounded in first-hand observation of guinea-pig behaviour.
At the same time, Olga is a romantic, given to tall stories, such as how her great-great-great-uncle, Sir Lancelot da Polga, invented French. The best stories in this collection are those in which an exact balance is struck between fact and fancy, as when Olga imposes a piece of gibberish on her friends as a poem, because she alone has not managed to compose one, or unashamedly takes credit for a plan that went wildly wrong but somehow produced the right result.
The puns are perhaps not so nimble as in the earlier collections, and certainly the stories are less even in quality, but Hans Helweg's illustrations are jaunty as ever.
Language Arts (review date March 1977)
SOURCE: Language Arts 55, no. 3 (March 1977): 370.
In nine more tales Olga da Polga [Olga Carries On ], the guinea pig, has her photograph taken, tells a tall tale, writes poetry, learns to sing, solves a mystery, fights a fire, and carries on in her usual exuberant manner. Noel the Cat, Graham the tortoise, and Fangio the hedgehog join the feisty Olga in her amusing escapades. While the animals are true to their nature, they do have fun with language games and satire. Poets may grimace at Graham's remark, "'The ends are the same … And the middle doesn't make any sense at all. That's what I call a real poem.'" Line drawings bounce with expression and movement.
Barbara Ellerman (review date 15 November 1977)
SOURCE: Ellerman, Barbara. Booklist 74, no. 6 (15 November 1977): 548.
The vivacious guinea pig of Olga Meets Her Match again reigns from her cage in Karen Sawdust's backyard with a dauntless spirit that seldom wilts [Olga carries on ]. In between telling imaginative tall tales to Noel the cat, Graham the tortoise, and Fangio the hedgehog and worrying about the strange new residents in Karen's bedroom, Olga sounds a fire alarm, plans an elaborate trap to snare an intruder, and astounds everyone with her ability to speak French. Action is nicely paced in these nine episodic tales that skim along on sparkling humor.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1978)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 31, no. 5 (January 1978): 74.
More anecdotes about the engaging guinea pig whose vivid imagination leads her into tale-telling in which she lets her high esteem for guinea pigs in general, and herself in particular, have full sway. Such as her own explanation for the way the French language started: one of her ancestors conceived the idea during the Wars of the Roses, when people across the channel grew an enormous rose hedge to keep the English out. Yet Olga has some charitable instincts toward her three companions and is willing to share the glory—real or imagined—when she sees that one of them needs a boost to morale. Like Bond's Paddington, Olga is a well-defined and engaging character; and the lively style and humor of Bond's writing, with each chapter a discrete episode, make the book fun to read aloud or alone.
Susan Sprague (review date January 1978)
SOURCE: Sprague, Susan. School Library Journal 24, no. 5 (January 1978): 86.
The episodes involving setting a cat trap and warning the human Sawdust family of fire are the only worthwhile parts of this latest Olga da Polga book [Olga Carries On ]. Several of the other chapters are too drawn out, such as her explanations of how the French language began (with "Wheeee!") and of how guinea pigs learned to sing. Passable for enthusiastic Olga fans but it's not as good as Bond's others.
PADDINGTON TAKES THE TEST (1979)
Anna Biagioni Hart (review date November 1980)
SOURCE: Hart, Anna Biagioni. School Library Journal 27, no. 3 (November 1980): 70.
The gentlemanly bear is as appealing as ever in this high-quality addition to the series [Paddington Takes the Test ]. In the title adventure, Paddington is tested for a driver's license. He also tries out a hammock and a sauna for Mr. Curry, visits an English Stately Home, attempts to earn money and assists at the Christmas pantomime. Briticisms can usually be understood from the context. The consequences of his literal-mindedness are hilarious, and the illustrations again show Paddington in his many moods.
J. D. POLSON AND THE LIBERTY HEAD DIME (1980)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 January 1981)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 49, no. 2 (15 January 1981): 71-2.
Not a companion for the sly contretemps of Paddington [J. D. Polson and the Liberty Head Dime ] but a satiric comic book for older kids (reminiscent of Tintin, and similarly produced) featuring a Texas armadillo, J. D. Polson, who comes a cropper in New York until he finds an 1894 Liberty Head dime ("You don't even need to pay for anything. You just show it around"), puts himself in the hands of Get Ahead Advisors, Inc., and winds up (after some false starts) as President of the US. Writes his proud mother, ringing down the curtain: "P.S. How does it feel to have the loneliest job in the world?" Some obvious yuks—but fresh or clever it isn't.
J. D. POLSON AND THE DILLOGATE AFFAIR (1981)
Derwent May (review date 5 November 1981)
SOURCE: May, Derwent. Listener 106, no. 2734 (5 November 1981): 548.
Michael Bond, tired of his illustrious Paddington Bear, has invented a new character, an armadillo called J. D. Polson, who is President of the United States. In J. D. Polson and the Dillogate Affair, the pert President in his green eyeshade gets bored with his advisers, goes on a spree and finds he's accidentally given America back to the Red Indians. But this book is coyer than the Paddington stories, and Polson is less charming than the bear.
New Statesman (review date 4 December 1981)
SOURCE: New Statesman 102, no. 2646 (4 December 1981): 18.
You remember cosy old Paddington Bear? Well, unbelievably, from the same pen now comes J. D. Polson [J. D. Polson and the Dillogate Affair ], the first Armadillo to become President of the US of A. In comic cartoon form we get an insight into the mad machine surrounding the president. Behind a picture of the Mona Lisa smoking a pipe is a roomful of agents: 'The President is eating the secret papers,' says one. 'Let's get this straight—he's recording himself eating secret papers.' 'And we're recording him recording himself eating secret papers.' J. D. Polson can't stand it and gives America back to the Indians. Nixon didn't do that, did he?
PADDINGTON ON SCREEN (1981)
Lucy V. Hawley (review date February 1983)
SOURCE: Hawley, Lucy V. School Library Journal 29, no. 6 (February 1983): 73.
Beguiling, enduring Paddington is back [Paddington on Screen ]. This time he pursues his schemes in seven previously-published adventures. Each story stands alone and could be a good choice for reading aloud to the middle grades. But recommend this book with caution. Each of the stories involves Paddington at the BBC Television Center. The book includes more than the usual number of Briticisms, and requires an acquaintance with BBC1 and BBC2, and the very popular British television show Blue Peter. Without this familiarity, this book will be enjoyed only by the most loyal of fans who cheer on Paddington and his quest for another marmalade sandwich.
THE CARAVAN PUPPETS (1983)
Lucinda Fox (review date June 1984)
SOURCE: Fox, Lucinda. School Librarian 32, no. 2 (June 1984): 132.
Mr Briggs has a special surprise for Susan and Jeremy [The Caravan Puppets ], on a summer holiday with their aunt in the country: wooden puppets which he has made. Their favourite is a small mouse called Elmer G. Knickerbocker (who may well become as popular as Paddington Bear, whose creator is also responsible for Elmer). Mr Briggs finds the children an old gipsy caravan and they work on it and the puppets to produce a show. Of course, there are setbacks and difficulties but it all goes to make up a delightful story. Vanessa Julian-Ottie's illustrations bring the puppets to life for young readers.
PADDINGTON AND THE KNICKERBOCKER RAINBOW; PADDINGTON AT THE ZOO (1985)
Anne Saidman (review date December 1985)
SOURCE: Saidman, Anne. School Library Journal 32, no. 4 (December 1985): 67.
Two very simple Paddington Bear stories. In Paddington and the Knickerbocker Rainbow, Mr. Brown tells Paddington he can have a fancy ice cream called a Knickerbocker Glory if he can pronounce it. In Paddington at the Zoo, Paddington loses his sandwiches one by one to a succession of animals. [David] McKee's illustrations, pen-and-ink filled in with watercolors, make Paddington accessible to very young children. The books are arranged with a full-color illustration on each page facing another page with a few lines of text and a drawing of Paddington. Both books will serve as an introduction to this popular bear, although Paddington at the Zoo will have more appeal to the intended audience.
PADDINGTON AT THE FAIR (1985); PADDINGTON'S ART EXHIBITION (1986)
Barbara Webber (review date October 1986)
SOURCE: Webber, Barbara. School Library Journal 33, no. 2 (October 1986): 156.
Two more primary adventures of Paddington Bear [Paddington at the Fair. and Paddington's Art Exhibit ]. In both stories, the humor and warmth of the text is complemented by lighthearted watercolors. The arrangement of a page of text on a softly colored background facing a full-page illustration is both visually appealing and well-suited to a very young audience. Paddington wins prizes, rides the Merry-Go-Round and the Space Craft, and enjoys bumper cars, slides, and the predictions of a fortune teller in Paddington at the Fair. In Paddington's Art Exhibition, Paddington tries his hand at painting after seeing a display of framed artwork. Although both books are appropriately simple and entertaining, children will relate more directly to the events in Paddington at the Fair.
PADDINGTON'S ABC; PADDINGTON'S 123 (1990); PADDINGTON'S COLORS; PADDINGTON'S OPPOSITES (1991)
Carolyn Phelan (review date 15 December 1991)
SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 88, no. 8 (15 December 1991): 769.
While the colors are sometimes bright to the point of garishness [Paddington's Colors ], there's much to recommend in these simple concept books. First, the leading character is a popular favorite; second, the exceptionally clear pictures and type make this large-format book a good choice for classroom sharing; third, the concepts are presented intelligently; and fourth, many kids prefer their colors ultrabright. In Colors, Paddington does his spring cleaning. Putting a RED blanket in the washer on one large double-page spread, he adds a WHITE sheet on the next. The third shows the sheet, now PINK, hanging on the line. A GRAY cloud threatens rain, but Paddington pulls out his trusty BLACK umbrella, and so on. On the last pages, the genial bear invites readers to name the colors of his paw prints, tells "what happens when you mix the colors" (yellow paw + blue paw = green paw), and talks about the number, names, and order of colors in the rainbow. The first pages would be fun for very young children, while giving older kids a running start for the more challenging questions at the end. Check the series roundup in this issue for the other Paddington concept books: an ABC, a counting book, and a book of opposites.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1992)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 45, no. 5 (January 1992): 118.
Four oversize books [Paddington's ABC, Paddington's 123, Paddington's Colors, and Paddington's Opposites ], each in the standard 32-page picture book format, are appropriate for teaching basic concepts to young children, using bright blocks of solid color, surrounding them with plenty of white space, and supplying boldface captions on each page. All of the books have some reinforcing game element at the end: in the alphabet book, for example, supplying the missing first letter of a familiar word, or in the counting book, finding the partially-hidden marmalade sandwiches. While [John] Lobban's Paddington lacks the raffish charm of the Peggy Fortnum original, the design and execution are ineluctably appealing, just right for the intended audience.
Carolyn Jenks (review date February 1992)
SOURCE: Jenks, Carolyn. School Library Journal 38, no. 2 (February 1992): 71.
A Bear Called Paddington is the shadow of his former self in these two concept books [Paddington's ABC and Paddington's 123 ]. Peggy Fortnum's original sketches of this well-meaning, bumbling bear have been copied, expanded, and brightly colored. Paddington's personality is shown only in symbols, such as his famous and favorite hat on the H page of the alphabet book or 20 marmalade sandwiches, the highest number represented in the counting book. Both volumes are oversized and clear, but there are many more alphabet and counting books available that are more imaginative and humorous. This fine, polite bear is being diminished and misused; disregard these slim offerings and go back to the original Paddington stories.
PADDINGTON BEAR AND THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE (1997)
Carolyn Phelan (review date 15 September 1997)
SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 94, no. 2 (15 September 1997): 239.
Paddington Bear takes his family for a sleigh ride through Santa's Winter Wonderland at a department store [Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise ]. When he hops off the sleigh and disappears into the Wonderland, Paddington gets into a spot of trouble with store management, but publicity from the episode boosts sales so much that they invite him back. The story rambles a bit; however, Alley's colorful illustrations will keep children's interest as the words roll by. Every turn of the page brings new action and details to explore. Even a child who can't yet read the large-type text will find it possible to read the characters' expressions and body language, which clearly reveal their thoughts and emotions. Preschoolers who have never been introduced to Paddington may be puzzled by the references to his bun money, but chances are they'll be asking for marmalade by the time the story is over.
Jane Marino (review date October 1997)
SOURCE: Marino, Jane. School Library Journal 43, no. 10 (October 1997): 40.
With all the British charm and bearish pluckiness one would hope for, Paddington takes his family on an outing to the local department store to visit the Winter Wonderland [Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise ]. It all turns out to be somewhat less than they expected. First, Paddington is turned away from Santa by a brusque store manager, and then he tries to fix a light during a disappointing Winter Wonderland ride and ends up causing a ruckus. The Brown family beats a hasty retreat, but the chaos turns out to be good business. Mrs. Bird smooths things out between Paddington and the store. Even Santa gets into the act, producing a very special jar of marmalade—just for Paddington. The sequence of events is sometimes choppy, but the dialogue is clever [R. W.]. Alley's lively watercolor illustrations have a humorous cartoon flair. An additional purchase for Paddington Bear's many fans.
Horn Book Guide (review date spring 1998)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 9, no. 1 (spring 1998): 23.
Less than impressed by the shabby Winter Wonderland at a department store where he takes the Brown family for a Christmas outing [Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise ], Paddington attempts to mend what he thinks is a malfunctioning display. The ensuing ruckus turns out to be good business for the store, and the intrepid bear even gets his wish for homemade marmalade. Watercolors add liveliness to the only mildly amusing story.
PADDINGTON BEAR ALL DAY; PADDINGTON BEAR GOES TO MARKET (1998)
Carolyn Phelan (review date 1 April 1998)
SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 94, no. 15 (1 April 1998): 1329.
Two board books [Paddington Bear All Day and Paddington Bear Goes to Market ] offer toddlers a chance to meet Paddington Bear. All Day hits the high spots of routine: getting up, dressing himself, eating breakfast, eating lunch, having tea, and going to bed. Given the rhythm of children's days, this pattern may resonate strongly with their sense of what's important. In Goes to Market, the little bear hurries past the friendly shopkeepers in his neighborhood until he reaches the bakery, where he buys buns for himself and a friend. Though the rhymed couplets are unexceptional, the text establishes some of the basics about Paddington, and the illustrations complement them with grace and humor, color and detail. An appealing introduction to Paddington.
PADDINGTON BEAR AND THE BUSY BEE CARNIVAL (1998)
Carolyn Phelan (review date 15 May 1998)
SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 94, no. 18 (15 May 1998): 1629-30.
Visiting London's "Little Venice" carnival with Mr. Gruber, Paddington Bear [Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival ] decides to enter a contest by listing everything he sees that begins with the letter B. Each turn of the page brings a new scene showing Paddington exploring the area and writing down things that start with B. A boy surreptitiously follows the bear and Mr. Gruber, spying on them and adding objects to his own contest list. This sneaky character adds a welcome bit of intrigue to the pictures as well as to the plot. Alley's detailed ink-and-watercolor-wash illustrations make the most of the low-key plot and offer plenty of affable characters and intriguing details. Teachers and parents will appreciate the practice on the letter B, but young children will enjoy just hanging out with Paddington for the space of this pleasant picture book.
Lisa S. Murphy (review date August 1998)
SOURCE: Murphy, Lisa S. School Library Journal 44, no. 8 (August 1998): 132-33.
Paddington is overwhelmed by the choices of activities at the Spring Carnival [Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival ] so his friend Mr. Gruber suggests the Busy Bee Adventure Trail, the object being to find as many things as possible that begin with the letter B. The bear gets right to business, but readers will see that trouble is already brewing. A young boy trailing the two is copying their list. Not surprisingly, when it's time to judge the contest there's a tie. The problem is solved when the bear finds another B, the most important one of all. Emerging readers and their parents will have the makings of a new game after they see the relish with which it's played here. Children will enjoy Bond's dry humor that will make them feel the wiser. [R. W.] Alley's watercolor-and-ink illustrations capture the soft colors of the spring day and the crowd's happy sense of anticipation, with deft touches that remind readers that this is not just any city, but Paddington's London.
Horn Book Guide (review date fall 1998)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 9, no. 2 (fall 1998): 285.
Paddington Bear and his friend Mr. Gruber go to a local carnival [Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival ] where Paddington enters a contest to find the most things that begin with the letter B. After a long walk in which he discovers such things as a "beard," a "buckle," "boots," and a "basket," Paddington is declared the winner. The slight story has essentially no tension or character development but is animated by busy, cheerful watercolors.
A PADDINGTON TREASURY (2000)
Horn Book Guide (review date spring 2000)
SOURCE: Horn Book Guide 11, no. 1 (spring 2000): 75.
Thirty-five stories from eleven different Paddington books are included with only minor changes to the text [Paddington Treasury ] (for instance, references to other stories not included have been cut and money has been updated). Peggy Fortnum's original drawings are here, with watercolor added by [Caroline] Nuttall-Smith. A heavy, but handsome, edition.
Michael Bond Papers. de Grummond Collection, University of Southern Mississippi, 1958-1966.
Collection of Bond's papers.
Burke, Kathleen. Smithsonian 29, no. 8 (November 1998): 23-34.
Celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the publication of A Bear Called Paddington.
New York Times Book Review (6 October 1963): 42-3.
Review of Paddington at Large.
Pippett, Aileen. "Rats Will Be Rats—but Mice Are Nice." New York Times Book Review (9 November 1969): 30.
Review of Paddington at Large.
Additional coverage of Bond's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Children's Literature Review, Vol. 1; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8R; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vols. 4, 24, 49, 101; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 161; Literature Resource Center ; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Eds. 1, 2; St. James Guide to Children's Writers, Vol. 5; Something about the Author, Vols. 6, 58; and Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Vol. 3.