Title: More About Paddington.
Author: Michael Bond.
Genre: Fiction, children's lit, fantasy, YA, animals.
Publication Date: 1959.
Summary: As Paddington says himself, “Things happen to me – I’m that sort of bear.” And, with his attempts at home decorating, detective work and photography, the Brown family soon find that Paddington causes his own particular brand of chaos.
My rating: 8/10
♥ It was Mr Brown who first broke the silence. “You know,” he began, taking a long draw at his pipe, “it’s a funny thing, but I’ve been through this encyclopedia a dozen times and there’s no mention of a bear like Paddington.”
“Ah, and there won’t be,” exclaimed Mrs Bird. “Bears like Paddington are very rare. And a good thing too, if you ask me, or it would cost us a small fortune in marmalade.” Mrs Bird was always going on about Paddington’s fondness for marmalade, but it was noticeable she was never without a spare jar in the larder in case of emergency.
♥ Having a bear in the family was a heavy responsibility – especially a bear like Paddington – and Mr Brown took the matter very seriously.
♥“Ssh!” replied Mrs Brown. “I think he’s almost ready now. He’s doing something with a piece of string.”
“What on earth is that for?” asked Mr Brown.
“It’s to measure you,” said Paddington, tying a loop in the end.
“Well, if you don’t mind,” protested Mr Brown, when he saw what Paddington was up to, “I’d much rather you tied the other end on to the camera instead of this end to my ear!” The rest of his sentence disappeared in a gurgle as Paddington pulled the string tight.
Paddington looked rather surprised and examined the knot round Mr Brown’s ear with interest. “I think I must have made a slip knot by mistake,” he announced eventually. Paddington wasn’t very good at knots – mainly because having paws made things difficult for him.
“Really, Henry,” said Mrs Brown. “Don’t make such a fuss. Anyone would think you’d been hurt.”
Mr Brown rubbed his ear, which had gone a funny mauve colour. “It’s my ear,” he said, “and it jolly well does hurt.”
♥ “Well, I think it’s a very nice picture for a first attempt,” said Mrs Bird. “And I’d like six postcard prints, please. I’m sure Paddington’s Aunt Lucy in Peru would love one. She lives in the home for retired bears in Lima,” she added, for the benefit of the shopkeeper.
“Does she?” said the man, looking most impressed. “Well, it’s the first time I’ve ever had any pictures sent overseas – especially to a home for retired bears in Peru.”
♥ But Paddington wasn’t listening. He was still thinking about his camera.
Early next morning he hurried down to the shop and was pleased to see it already occupied a position of honour in the middle of the window.
Underneath it was a notice which said: A VERY RARE TYPE OF EARLY CAMERA – NOW OWNED BY MR PADDINGTON BROWN – A YOUNG LOCAL BEAR GENTLEMAN.
But Paddington was even more pleased by another notice next to it which said: AN EXAMPLE OF HIS WORK – and underneath that was his picture.
It was a little blurred and there were several paw marks near the edge, but one or two people in the neighbourhood came up and congratulated him and several of them said they could quite clearly recognise everyone in it. All in all Paddington thought it had been a very good three pounds’ worth.
♥ He and Paddington often had a long chat about things in general over their morning cocoa, and Mr Gruber liked nothing better than to help Paddington with his problems.
“A problem shared is a problem halved, Mr Brown,” he was fond of saying. “And I must say, that since you came to live in the district I’ve never been short of things to look up.”
♥ “Snowballs?” repeated Paddington, hurriedly putting his paw behind his back. “Did you say snowballs, Mr Curry?”
“Yes,” said Mr Curry. “Snowballs! A large one came through my bedroom window a moment ago and landed right in the middle of my bed. Now it’s all melted on my hot-water bottle! If I thought you had done it on purpose, bear…”
“Oh no, Mr Curry,” said Paddington, earnestly. “I wouldn’t do a thing like that on purpose. I don’t think I could. It’s difficult throwing snowballs by paw – especially big ones like that.”
“Like what?” asked Mr Curry, suspiciously.
“Like the one you said landed in your bed,” said Paddington sounding rather confused. He was beginning to wish Mr Curry would hurry up and go. The snowball was making his paw very cold.
♥ But she wasn’t the only one who couldn’t think of sleep. Several times the door to Paddington’s room gently opened and either Mr and Mrs Brown or Jonathan and Judy crept in to see how he was getting on. Somehow it didn’t seem possible that anything could happen to Paddington.
♥ If he felt surprised he showed no signs of it. Doorkeepers at Crumbold & Ferns were always very well trained. All the same he couldn’t help wondering about Paddington. When he noticed the tie-pin with the enormous diamond in the middle, he realised at once that he was dealing with someone very important. “Probably one of these society bears,” he thought to himself. But when he caught sight of Paddington’s old hat he wasn’t quite so sure. “Perhaps he’s a huntin’, shootin’, and fishin’ bear up from the country for the day,” he decided. “Or even a society bear that’s seen better days.”
♥ The assistant swallowed hard. He found it impossible to understand what this extraordinary young bear was saying.
“Perhaps,” he suggested, for a Crumbold & Ferns assistant rarely bent down, “you wouldn’t mind standing on the counter?”
Paddington sighed. It really was most difficult trying to explain things sometimes.
♥ It was as he felt in his duffle coat pocket for a handkerchief that it happened.
The assistant jumped slightly and the expression on his face froze and then gradually changed to one of disbelief.
“Excuse me,” said Paddington, tapping him on the shoulder, “but I think my bullseye has fallen in your ear!”
“Your bullseye?” exclaimed the man, in a horrified tone of voice. “Fallen in my ear?”
“Yes,” said Paddington. “It was given to me by a bus conductor and I’m afraid it’s got a bit slippery where I’ve been sucking it.”
The assistant crawled out from under the table and drew himself up to his full height. With a look of great distaste, he withdrew the remains of Paddington’s bullseye from his ear. He held it for a moment between thumb and forefinger and then hurriedly placed it on a nearby counter. It was bad enough having to crawl around the floor untangling a clothes-line – but to have a bullseye in his ear – such a thing had never been known before in Crumbold & Ferns.
♥ Paddington found that Christmas took a long time to come. Each morning when he hurried downstairs he crossed the date off the calendar, but the more days he crossed off the farther away it seemed.
However, there was plenty to occupy his mind. For one thing, the postman started arriving later and later in the morning, and when he did finally reach the Browns’ house there were so many letters to deliver he had a job to push them all through the letterbox. Often there were mysterious-looking parcels as well, which Mrs Bird promptly hid before Paddington had time to squeeze them.
♥ “You may be only a small bear,” said Mrs Bird, as she helped him arrange the cards on the mantelpiece, “but you certainly leave your mark.”
Paddington wasn’t sure how to take this, especially as Mrs Bird had just polished the hall floor, but when he examined his paws they were quite clean.
♥ Paddington wasn’t sure about the spelling of A MERRY CHRISTMAS. It didn’t look at all right. But Mrs Bird checked all the words in a dictionary for him to make certain.
“I don’t suppose many people get Christmas cards from a bear,” she explained. “They’ll probably want to keep them, so you ought to make sure they are right.”
♥ Apart from the Christmas tree, there were paper chains and holly to be put up, and large coloured bells made of crinkly paper. Paddington enjoyed doing the paper chains. He managed to persuade Mr Brown that bears were very good at putting up decorations and together they did most of the house, with Paddington standing on Mr Brown’s shoulders while Mr Brown handed up the drawing pins. It came to an unhappy end one evening when Paddington accidentally put his paw on a drawing pin which he’d left on top of Mr Brown’s head. When Mrs Bird rushed into the dining-room to see what all the fuss was about, and to inquire why all the lights had suddenly gone out, she found Paddington hanging by his paws from the chandelier and Mr Brown dancing around the room rubbing his head.
♥ “I’m as patriotic as the next man,” grumbled Mr Brown. “But I draw the line when bears start playing the National Anthem at six o’clock in the morning – especially on a xylophone.”
♥ “Crikey!” exclaimed Jonathan, as a thought suddenly struck him. “You don’t think he’s playing at Father Christmas, do you? He was asking all about it the other day when he put his list up the chimney. I bet that’s why he wanted us to come in here – because this chimney connects with the one upstairs – and there isn’t a fire.”
“Father Christmas?” said Mr Brown. “I’ll give him Father Christmas!” He stuck his head up the chimney and called Paddington’s name several times. “I can’t see anything,” he said, striking a match. As if in answer a large lump of soot descended and burst on top of his head.
“Now look what you’ve done, Henry,” said Mrs Brown. “Shouting so – you’ve disturbed the soot. All over your clean shirt!”
“If it is young Mr Brown, perhaps he’s stuck somewhere,” suggested Mr Gruber. “He did have rather a large dinner. I remember wondering at the time where he put it all.”
Mr Gruber’s suggestion had an immediate effect on the party and everyone began to look serious.
“Why, he might suffocate with the fumes,” exclaimed Mrs Bird, as she hurried out to the broom cupboard.
When she returned, armed with a mop, everyone took it in turns to poke it up the chimney but even though they strained their ears they couldn’t hear a sound.
It was while the excitement was at its height that Paddington came into the room. He looked most surprised when he saw Mr Brown with his head up the chimney.
“You can come into the dining-room now,” he announced, looking round the room. “I’ve finished wrapping my presents and they’re all on the Christmas tree.”
“You don’t mean to say,” spluttered Mr Brown, as he sat in the fireplace rubbing his face with a handkerchief, “you’ve been in the other room all the time?”
“Yes,” said Paddington, innocently, “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.”
Mrs Brown looked at her husband. “I thought you said you’d looked everywhere,” she exclaimed.
“Well – we’d just come from the dining-room,” said Mr Brown, looking very sheepish. “I didn’t think he’d be there.”
“It only goes to show,” said Mrs Bird hastily, as she caught sight of the expression on Mr Brown’s face, “how easy it is to give a bear a bad name.”
♥ “I know how you enjoy writing about your adventures, Mr Brown,” he said. “And you have so many I’m sure your present scrapbook must be almost full.”
“It is,” said Paddington, earnestly. “And I’m sure I shall have lots more. Things happen to me, you know."
♥ When he made his way up to bed later that evening, his mind was in such a whirl, and he was so full of good things, he could hardly climb the stairs – let alone think about anything. He wasn’t quite sure which he had enjoyed most. The presents, the Christmas dinner, the games, or the tea – with the special marmalade-layer birthday cake Mrs Bird had made in his honour. Pausing on the corner half way up, he decided he had enjoyed giving his own presents best of all.
♥ “Honestly!” Mrs Bird exclaimed, as she was joined by the others. “What does that bear look like? A paper hat about ten sizes too big on his head – Mr Gruber’s scrapbook in one paw – and a plate of Christmas pudding in the other!”
“I don’t care what he looks like,” said Mrs Brown, “so long as he stays that way. The place wouldn’t be the same without him.”