Title: Paddington Helps Out.
Author: Michael Bond (illustrated by Peggy Fortnum).
Genre: Fiction, children's lit, ya.
Publication Date: 1960.
Summary: The mischievous and adventurous bear is back again, and his attraction for near disaster is as magnetic as ever. Who but Paddington would set out to cook dumplings only to find himself chased from the kitchen by something so nasty only his resourceful friend Mr. Gruber can rescue him? And who else could get away with sawing his neighbor's kitchen table in two or flooding the launderette? These and other riotous adventures all find their way into Paddington's scrapbook.
My rating: 8.5/10.
♥ He liked doing new things and he was looking forward to the day's outing. One of the nicest things about living with the Browns was the number of surprises he had.
"I hope I've never ever done everything, Mrs Bird," he said as she came into the dining-room to see if he'd finished his toast and marmalade. "I shouldn't have any surprises left then!"
♥ Paddington, who was sitting beside her on the front seat, consulted his map. "I think it's the next turning on the right," he announced, following the route with his paw.
"I do hope so," said Mrs Brown. They had already taken one wrong turning that morning when Paddington had followed a piece of dried marmalade peel on his map by mistake.
"Fancy turning right at a piece of dried marmalade peel," grumbled Mr Brown. "That policeman didn't like it at all."
♥ "Do hurry, Henry," she cried.
"I'm sure Paddington can't swim," said Judy.
"What did you say?" called Paddington.
"She said "you can't swim"," yelled Mr Brown.
When he heard what Mr Brown said Paddington began waving his paws wildly in the air and there was a gurgle as he promptly sank.
"There now, Henry," exclaimed Mrs Brown. "Now look what you've done. He was all right until you spoke."
"I like that!" said Mr Brown, giving his wife an expressive look.
♥ Everyone was staring down at him making suggestions while the man in charge of the boats pulled his paws back and forth, giving him artificial respiration.
"Thank goodness he's safe," exclaimed Mrs Brown thankfully.
"Don't see why 'e shouldn't be," said the man. "If 'e'd layed 'isself down it'd only 've come up to 'is whiskers. The water's only about nine inches deep just 'ere. Probably a lost less now – judging by the amount 'e's swallowed. Kept 'is mouth open when 'e went under, I dare say."
Closely followed by Mr and Mrs Brown, Mrs Bird, Jonathan and Judy, the boatman and a crowd of interested sightseers, Paddington hurried along the towpath with a grim expression on his face, leaving a trail of water behind him.
♥ "I hear you've lost a very valuable Persian cat," said the lock-keeper to Mr Brown.
"Not a cat, said Mr Brown. "A hat. And it's from Peru."
♥ "Paddington!" exclaimed Mrs Brown, as she entered carrying the breakfast things. "What on earth's the matter? I kept hearing a lot of banging and shouting coming from your room in the night."
"I expect it was the noise of the furniture, Mrs Brown," explained Paddington, hastily drawing the sheets up round his ears so that she wouldn't see the marmalade stains.
"The furniture?" exclaimed Mrs Brown, as she put the tray down on the bed. "What furniture?"
"The furniture I bought in my dream," said Paddington patiently.
He had even more trouble with Mr Brown's plywood, for it was a larger sheet and there was a wind blowing. Each time he picked it up a gust of wind caught it and carried him farther and farther down the garden.
♥ To start with, the plywood was bigger than the top of Mr Curry's table. Being small, Paddington had to climb on top of it and several times it nearly topped over when he stood too near the edge. Then he found that the saw, although it was nice and sharp, was so large he had to use both paws, which made things even more difficult. For the first few strokes it went through the wood like a knife through butter, but for some reason or other it gradually became harder and harder to use.
After sitting down for a short rest Paddington decided to try starting from the other end. But once again, for some strange reason, he found it much easier at the beginning. However, as he gave the last saw cut and scrambled clear he was pleased to see the two saw cuts met in the middle, dividing the sheet of plywood nearly in half.
It was then, as he reached up to take the newly sawn pieces of plywood down, that Paddington had his first shock of the morning.
There was a loud splintering noise and he dodged back just in time to avoid being hit by Mr Curry's table as it suddenly parted in the middle and fell with a crash to the floor.
Paddington sat in the middle of the kitchen floor with a mournful expression on his face for quite some time, surveying the wreckage and trying to think of a good reason why Mr Curry would like two small tables with only two legs each instead of one big one with four legs.
He consulted the instructions in his catalogue hopefully several times, but there didn't seem to be anything about mending tables which had accidentally been sawn in half. In all the pictures the people seemed to be happy and smiling and their kitchens were as shiny as a new pin. Whereas, looking unhappily around Mr Curry's kitchen, even Paddington had to admit it was in a bit of a mess.
♥ Paddington was a hopeful bear in many ways and he suddenly remembered seeing a large tube of glue in his carpentry set. If he spread some of the glue along the two edges and nailed them together for good measure, perhaps even Mr Curry might not notice anything was wrong. He worked hard for some minutes and by the time he had finished he felt quite pleased with himself. Admittedly the table had a funny tilt to one side and seemed a trifle wobbly, but it was definitely in one piece again. He spread some flour over the joint and then stood back to admire his handiwork.
Having carefully examined it from all angles, he decided he might be able to improve matters still further by sawing a piece off one of the legs. But when he had done that the table seemed to lean the opposite way – which meant he had to saw a piece off one of the others legs as well. Then, when he had done that, he discovered the table was leaning the other way again.
..When he had first started sawing the legs, Mr Curry's table had been as tall as he was. Now he found he was looking down at it. In fact, he didn't remember ever having seen such a short table before and his eyes nearly popped out with astonishment.
♥ But before Paddington had time to explain exactly what he did mean, Mrs Brown pointed to the window in astonishment.
"Good gracious," she cried. "There is Mr Curry. Whatever's the matter with him? He's running around the garden waving a kitchen table in the air." She peered through the glass. "And it doesn't seem to have any legs, either. How very odd."
"Gosh!" cried Jonathan excitedly. "Now, it's broken in two!"
The Browns stared through the window at the strange sight of Mr Curry dancing round his pond waving the two halves of a table. "Bear!" he shouted. "Where are you, bear?"
"Oh dear," said Paddington, as everyone turned away from the window and looked at him accusingly. "I'm in trouble again."
♥ "I'm afraid," said the lady in the cash desk at the Podium Super Cinema, "you can't come in. It's an "A" film."
"I beg your pardon?" said Paddington, looking puzzled.
""A"," said the lady.
"Eh?" repeated Paddington, looking even more puzzled. "But that's what I said."
"Not "eh"," said the lady impatiently. ""A". That means bears under sixteen aren't allowed in unaccompanied."
"Sixteen!" exclaimed Paddington, hardly able to believe his ears. "Sixteen! But I'm only two. That's another fourteen years. I might not even want to come then."
.."Do you think it's a good programme, Paddington?" asked Mrs Brown.
"Very good, Mrs Brown," said Paddington knowledgeably. "There's a cowboy film and a cartoon and an "I beg your pardon film" as well."
"A what film?" exclaimed Mr Brown.
"An "I beg your pardon film"," repeated Paddington. "That means bears under sixteen aren't allowed in by themselves."
"Oh, you mean an "A" film," said Jonathan.
"That's right," agreed Paddington. "That's what I said."
♥ As if that wasn't enough there had come news of "goings on" in the circle. It was most unusual to have "goings on" in the circle. Occasionally he had a spot of bother in the cheaper seats downstairs but never in the circle.
There had been complaints of bear's boos coming from the front row during the cowboy film, and as he'd passed through the stalls he'd also noticed several people immediately underneath the balcony with ice-cream stains on their hats. It was all very disturbing and he wasn't in the best of moods..
♥ "Good heavens!" exclaimed Mrs Brown a few moments later. "What on earth can that mean?"
Mr Brown adjusted his glasses and started at the screen. "WILL THE OWNER OF THE YOUNG BEAR IN THE CIRCLE KINDLY REPORT TO THE MANAGER'S OFFICE IMMEDIATELY," he read.
"I don't know, Mary," he said, as he made to get to his feet, "but I'm certainly going to find out."
"Owner indeed!" snorted Mrs Bird. "As if anyone owned Paddington."
"The boot's on the other paw, if you ask me," began Mr Brown. "Paddington owns us."
♥ "Do you like music, bear?" he asked suddenly.
"Oh, yes," replied Paddington. "But I don't really play anything except the comb and paper and I'm not very good at that because I get my whiskers caught in the comb."
♥ Paddington sighed. Perhaps if he hadn't spent so much time reading the newspapers he might not have hurried quite so much over the rest of the dusting. Then he might have been more careful when he shook Mrs Bird's feather duster over the boiler.
And if he hadn't set fire to Mrs Bird's feather duster he might have been able to take more time over the coffee.
Paddington felt very guilty about the coffee and he rather wished he had tested it before taking it upstairs to Mr and Mrs Brown. He was very glad he'd decided to make cocoa for himself instead.
It was while he was sitting there, scraping the remains of the dumplings out of his hat and licking the spoon, that he felt something move behind him. Not only that, but out of the corner of his eye he could see a shadow on the floor which definitely hadn't been there a moment before.
Paddington sat very still, holding his breath and listening. It wasn't so much a noise as a feeling, and it seemed to be creeping nearer and nearer, making a soft swishing noise as it came. Paddington felt his fur begin to stand on end as there came the sound of a slow plop... plop... plop across the kitchen floor. And then, just as he was summoning up enough courage to look over his shoulder, there was a loud crash from the direction of the stove. Without waiting to see what it was Paddington pulled his hat down over his head and ran, slamming the door behind him.
..Over most of the kitchen there was a thin film of flour. There was flour on the table, in the sink, on the floor; in fact, over practically everything. But it wasn't the general state of the room which made Mr Gruber cry out with surprise – it was the sight of something large and white hanging over the side of the stove.
He stared at it for a moment and then advanced cautiously across the kitchen and poked it with the handle of the warming pan. There was a loud squelching noise and Mr Gruber jumped back as part of it broke away and fell with a plop to the floor.
"Good heavens!" he exclaimed again. "I do believe it's some kind of dumpling, Mr Brown. I've never seen quite such a big one before," he went on as Paddington joined him. "It's grown right out of the saucepan and pushed the lid on to the floor. No wonder it made you jump."
Mr Gruber mopped his brow and opened the window. It was very warm in the kitchen. "However did it get to be that size?"
"I don't really know," Mr Gruber," said Paddington, looking puzzled. "It's one of mine and it didn't start off that way. I think something must have gone wrong in the saucepan."
♥ "Perhaps if you'll allow me," he continued tactfully, "I can give you a hand. It must be very difficult cooking for so many people."
"It is when you only have paws, Mr Gruber," said Paddington gratefully.
♥ As he handed Paddington the flour and suet Mr Gruber explained how dumplings became very much larger when they were cooked and that it really needed only a small amount of mixture to make quite large ones.
"No wonder yours were so big, Mr Brown," he said, as he lifted Paddington's old dumpling into the washing-bowl. "You must have used almost a bag of flour."
"Two bags," said Paddington, looking over his shoulder. "I don't know what Mrs Bird will say when she hears about it."
"Perhaps, if we buy her some more," said Mr Gruber, as he staggered into the garden with the bowl, "she won't mind quite so much."
Paddington made a number of journeys back and forth between the house and the wheelbarrow and each time he came through the front door he was carrying a large pile of things in his paws.
There were clothes, sheets, pillow-cases, towels, several tablecloths, not to mention a number of old jerseys belonging to Mr Curry, all of which he carefully placed in the barrow.
Having climbed up on one of the chairs and examined the instructions on the wall, Paddington tipped his laundry out on to the floor and began sorting it into four piles putting all Mr Curry's jerseys into one machine and all the Browns' washing into the other three.
And then there was the question of the soap. Having four machines to look after made things very difficult, especially as he had to climb up on a chair each time in order to put it in. No sooner had a red light gone out on one machine than another lit up and Paddington spent the first ten minutes rushing between the four machines pouring soap through the holes in the top as fast as he could. There was a nasty moment when he accidentally poured some soap into number ten by mistake and all the water bubbled over the side, but the lady whose machine it was was very nice about it and explained that she'd already put two lots in. Paddington was glad when at long last all the red lights went out and he was able to sit back on one of the seats and rest his paws.
♥ His eyes nearly popped out of his head as one of the other machines containing the Browns' washing began making a very strange whirring noise. The whirring was followed by several loud clicks and Paddington stared at the machine in amazement as the washing inside began to spin round faster and faster until it suddenly disappeared leaving a gaping hole in the middle.
He jumped up and peered through the porthole at the empty space where, only a few momenta before, his washing had been. Then he hurriedly began to undo the knob on the side of the machine. It was all very strange and it definitely needed investigating.
Paddington wasn't quite sure what happened next, but as he opened the door a stream of hot, soapy water shot out, nearly knocking his hat off, and as he fell over backwards on the floor most of Mrs Bird's washing seemed to land on top of his head.
Paddington lay on his back in a pool of water and listened on the shrieks and cries going on all around him. Then he closed his eyes, put his paws in his ears and waited for the worst to happen.
♥ "Well," she said approvingly, "I never expected to see this. I couldn't have done it better myself."
"I do hope it's all right, Mrs Bird," said Paddington anxiously. "I had a bit of a phenomenon in the launderette."
"A phenomenon?" repeated Mrs Brown. "But you can't have a phenomenon in a washing machine."
"I did," said Paddington firmly. "And all the water came out."
"I think you must be mistaken, dear," said Mrs Brown. "A phenomenon means something strange."
"And talking of strange things," said Mrs Bird, looking hard at Paddington, "Mr Curry knocked on the door a moment ago and left you a toffee. He says he's very pleased with his jerseys. He doesn't know what you've done to them but they fit him for the first time in years. They've always been too large up till now."
"Perhaps," said Mr Brown, "there was a phenomenon in the washing machine after all."
♥ Compliments from Mrs Bird were very rare.
"But all the better for having when they come, Mr Brown," said Mr Gruber. "All the better for having when they come."
♥ "After all, we ought to do something," said Mr Brown, playing his trump card. "If we hadn't seen him that day on Paddington station we might never have met him and goodness knows where he would have ended up."
The Browns were silent for a moment as they considered the awful possibility of never having met Paddington.
♥ "Perhaps, sir," said yet another waiter, as he wheeled a huge trolley laden with dishes towards the table, "you would care for some hors-d'œuvre while you wait?"
"That's a sort of salad," Mr Brown explained to Paddington.
Paddington licked his whiskers. "It looks a very good bargain," he said, staring at all the dishes. "I think perhaps I will."
"Oh dear," said Mrs Brown, as Paddington began helping himself. "You're not supposed to ear it from the trolley, Paddington."
♥ "I have a bowl of water."
"I don't think that's drinking water, Mr Brown," said Mr Gruber tactfully. "That's to dip your paws in when they get sticky. That's what's known as a paw bowl."
"A paw bowl?" exclaimed Paddington. "But I had a bath this afternoon."
"Never mind," said Mr Brown hastily.
He decided to concentrate on eating for a bit.
♥ "Are you enjoying your hors-d'œuvre, Mr Brown?"
"It's very nice, Mr Gruber," said Paddington, staring down at his plate with a puzzled expression on his face. "But I think I've lost one of my onions."
"You've what?" asked Mr Brown. It was difficult to hear what Paddington was saying for the noise the orchestra was making. It had been playing quite sweetly up until a moment ago but suddenly it had started making a dreadful row. It was something to do with one of the saxophone players in the front row. He kept shaking his instrument and then trying to blow it, and all the while the conductor was glaring at him.
"My onion!" exclaimed Paddington. "I had six just now and when I put my fork on one of them it suddenly disappeared. Now I've only got five."
Mrs Brown began to look more and more embarrassed as Paddington got down off his seat and began peering under the tables. "I do hope he finds it soon," she said. Everyone in the restaurant seemed to be looking in their direction and if they weren't actually pointing she knew they were talking about them.
"Gosh!" exclaimed Jonathan suddenly. He pointed towards the orchestra. "There's Paddington's onion!"
The Browns turned and looked at the orchestra. The saxophone player seemed to be having an argument with the conductor.
"How can I be expected to play properly," he said bitterly, "when I've got an onion in my instrument? And I've a good idea where it came from too!"
The conductor followed his gaze towards the Browns, who hurriedly looked the other way.
"For heaven's sake don't tell Paddington," said Mrs Brown. "He'll only want it back."
♥ Mr Gruber had ordered an omelette flambée, which meant it was set on fire just before it was served. "I don't know when I had one of those last," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."
.."Come along, Paddington," he called, as the waiter set light to the pan. "Come and see Mr Gruber's omelette. It's on fire."
"What!" cried Paddington, poking his head out from beneath the table. "Mr Gruber's omelette's on fire?"
He stared in astonishment at the waiter as he bore the silver tray with its flaming omelette towards the table.
"It's all right," Mr Gruber," he called, waving his paws in the air. "I'm coming!"
Before the Browns could stop him, Paddington had grabbed his paw bowl and had thrown the contents over the tray. There was a loud hissing noise and before the astonished gaze of thew waiter Mr Gruber's omelette slowly collapsed into a soggy mess in the bottom of the dish.
Several people near the Browns applauded. "What an unusual idea," said one of them. "Having the cabaret act sit at some of the tables just like anyone else."
♥ It was a hilarious party of Browns who finally got up to go. Paddington was so full of good things he had a job to get up at all. He had a last lingering look at the remains of an ice-cream on his plate but decided that enough was as good as a feast. He'd enjoyed himself no end and after a great deal of thought he left a penny under his plate for the waiter.
♥ After giving a final wave of his paw to some passers-by, he raised his hat to a policeman who signalled them on, and then settled back in his seat to enjoy the journey home with Mr Gruber and the Browns.
"I think," he announced sleepily, as he gave one final stare at the fast-disappearing lights, "I would like to have an anniversary every year!"
"And so say all of us, Mr Brown," echoed Mr Gruber from the back of the car. "And so say all of us!"