Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Love from Paddington Audio

Love from Paddington Audio

Michael Bond
For ages 8 to 10
Performed/read by: Jim Boradbent
HarperAudio, 2014 

Some years ago Aunt Lucy, an elderly bear living in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima, Peru, decided that it was time to send her nephew out into the world. The home simply wasn’t a suitable place for a young bear to grow up. Aunt Lucy arranged for her nephew to stow away on a ship bound for Europe and hoped for the best. Some time later she got a letter from her nephew. He had ended up in London where an English family took him in. Mr. and Mrs. Brown found him standing on a platform in Paddington Station and named him Paddington as they found his Peruvian name to be hard to pronounce.

   In this day and age very few of us write handwritten letters any more, choosing instead to write emails, but when you are a bear, typing on a keyboard is not a good option as you are prone to hitting several keys at once. Paddington therefore writes good old fashioned “snail mail” letters to Aunt Lucy to tell her about his adventures in London, and being the kind of bear who has adventures he has lots of stories to tell her.

   Though Paddington was taught English, there are times when he does not quite understand what people want from him and there are also many things that he does not know how to do. For example, he has never been in a bathtub before, and when he takes his first bath in the Brown’s bathroom he floods the place. Water drips through the floor and onto the Brown children who are in the room below, which is when they realize what has happened. Though the Browns quickly recognize that Paddington is prone to making mistakes of this kind, they cannot help growing very fond of him, and Mr. Brown invites the bear to stay with them as a member of the family, which delights Paddington.

   Once this decision is made, the Browns decide to set up a room for Paddington, a room of his own. To save money Mr. Brown decides that he will repaper the room himself, but when it comes to doing the work he somehow manages to avoid getting on with things, so Paddington decides that he will put up the new wallpaper; with disastrous results. Mrs. Bird, the housekeeper, feels that this incident proves that one should never leave Paddington to his own devices. In her opinion he should be supervised as much as possible, and kept busy. Paddington is given the job of doing the shopping every day (except Sunday). He goes out to Portobello Road, pulling his shopping basket on wheels, and soon gets to know the local tradespeople.

   One of the people he gets to know is Mr. Gruber, who owns an antique shop. Soon Paddington has a standing appointment to have his elevenses with Mr. Gruber and they become firm friends. Mr. Gruber takes Paddington to Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court, and other places, and every time Paddington shows that he is a very singular bear who has his own way of doing things.

   Listeners who have not encountered Paddington before will thoroughly enjoy listening to the wonderful letters that he writes to his aunt Lucy. Listeners who have read (or heard) some of the earlier Paddington books will enjoy revisiting his adventures because this time they will get to experience them through Paddington’s eyes, which puts a rather unusual perspective on things. Children (and grownups too for that matter) will be hard pressed not to laugh when they see how Paddington turns a simple outing into a one-of-a-kind event that leaves many of the people he encounters in state of acute befuddlement .