My aunt and I watched Paddington on DVD last night. It’s the newest movie about the little bear from Darkest Peru who always seems to find himself on an adventure. It’s a charmer! It had me from the opening scenes and is absolutely darling. Here’s his website.
“Please look after this bear. Thank you.” That’s the message on the note around Paddington’s neck from his Aunt Lucy as she sends him off to London. Named after Paddington Station, the marmalade-loving and very polite bear is soon adopted by the Brown family and their housekeeper, Mrs. Bird. Very soon, their lives are turned–joyfully–upside down. Let’s not forget Mr. Curry, the curmudgeonly neighbor, or Mr. Gruber, Paddington’s antique-dealer friend on the Portobello Road. The film’s bonus material reminded me of the illustrator, Peggy Fortnum. Since 1958, with the first book, A Bear Called Paddington, children the world over have loved this series by Michael Bond. He wrote another series about the guinea pig Olga da Polga. I liked her, but she wasn’t Paddington. I do have fond memories of our school librarian reading the first Olga book to my class, though.
I was introduced to the Paddington stories by the same librarian. My family could see that I was completely hooked, so every once in a while, even on an ordinary day, surprises would come from Brentano’s Bookstore for my own collection. I would read them to myself, or my aunt and uncle would read them to me at various times. They grew to love them, too. Paddington was dinner table conversation as well as we told them to my mom and grandmother.
“He does like experiences so,” says either Mrs. Brown or Mrs. Bird, after one of Paddington’s escapades turns out well, and he writes about it in his scrapbook, or in a letter to his Aunt Lucy. To this day, I’m not much of a scrapbooker, but I did keep a few in childhood, and Paddington inspired me to do it–although I’ve never seen my life as exciting.
You gotta admit, this bear gets around, whether it’s to the beach, the cinema, the theater, on a cruise, to a classical music concert, or getting lost in Harrod’s Department Store. He even entered a painting contest. You name it, he’s done it. He’s not very handy around the house–as evidenced by his taking a bath, accidentally gluing himself and the wallpaper to the wall, and the “something nasty in the kitchen” when he tries to cook. Beware of his particularly hard stares… And for someone who grew up without pets….well, you know. Paddington also inspired an interest in the UK, which has never left me. Life circumstances have never aligned for me to go.
I think my aunt got a kick out of the film. Sadly, she doesn’t remember the stories or ever reading them to me. Maybe sometime soon I’ll check a few out to read to her, and maybe she can remember along with me.