January 24, 2008


As a child I loved the story of little Paddington Bear arriving from Darkest Peru with his suitcase and several jars of marmalade. (For the sceptical, there are bears in Peru, Darkest or elsewhere, this kind.) I never imagined him at the centre of an immigration row…

Paddington arrived in London 50 years ago this year. To commemorate that, Michael Bond, Paddington’s ‘Daddy’, has written a series of new Paddington stories set in the present. As you might imagine, the authorities aren’t quite as open-armed as the first time round. Read a preview here, or below.

Paddington Bear faces questions on asylum status

Richard Lea

Tuesday 11 December 2007

The Guardian

Paddington’s back – and this time it’s his status as a refugee that’s getting him into trouble.

Michael Bond, the 81-year-old writer who created Britain’s favourite asylum seeker back in 1958, returns with his first novel-length collection of Paddington stories for 30 years, and the bear in the duffel coat is confronted with what his creator calls a “very different world”.

The opening story of Paddington Here and Now, to be published next June to mark his 50th anniversary, begins when Paddington finds that the shopping trolley he’s left outside the supermarket has vanished and he goes to the police to report it missing. The junior constable he meets soon discovers that Paddington is from darkest Peru, a straightforward admission from another era which takes on a different resonance in the current feverish climate surrounding issues of immigration.

While Paddington is never “actually arrested”, said Bond, there is “a bit of a kerfuffle”, enough for the Browns to “get worried [about his refugee status] after his visit to the police station. Is he going to get in trouble?” Everything turns out all right in the end, but it’s not before readers have seen something new in the diminutive bear, he explained. “There is this side of Paddington the Browns don’t really understand at all,” he continued, “what it’s like to be a refugee, not to be in your own country.”

Bond rejects the idea that there’s a “message” in the book, quoting Samuel Goldwyn’s dictum that “messages are for Western Union”, but is unabashed about confronting a hot political issue in a book for children.

“I think it’s quite good not to sweep it under the carpet,” he said. According to Bond there’s no duty for writers to explore difficult subjects, but authors should be “aware of them, and aware that life isn’t easy for someone who’s left their country and can’t go back”.

Paddington “hasn’t changed at all”, but the new stories “reflect life as it is”, Bond said. “It is a very different world to the world of the original book. I think life was much more settled then.”

It took him “a little while” to rediscover the rhythm of the Paddington novels, he continued, “because I’ve been doing TV scripts or books for younger children which have a totally different length.” Once he’d hit his stride with the opening story, “the rest followed quite quickly”.

“I never think of a story,” Bond said, “I just put Paddington into a situation and they develop, because he’s such a character.”

He has “no plans” to follow Paddington Here and Now with more stories.


One Response to “paddington”

  1. leeanne Says:

    paddington bear is the best bear in the world he has life experiences that no other bear does!!!!

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