Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear
Age Range: 9 - 11
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The first stand-alone profile for young readers of the man behind the bear.

Bond is a regular entry in collective biographies of authors, but from the evidence, he was such a private man and led such a quiet, uneventful life that Tolin resorts to invented scenes and conversations (closely based, she claims, on published sources) to fill out this slim volume. She retraces his childhood, World War II experiences, early career as a cameraman for the BBC, and eventual fame (after multiple rejections, etc.) as a children’s author. Sounding a timely note, she also weaves in as a recurrent theme experiences with and lifelong sympathies for immigrants—from Jewish Kindertransport refugees and children evacuated from London during the Blitz to later contacts with Afro-Caribbean and West Indian arrivals in London—that informed his most famous creation’s character and overseas origins. On the other hand, aside from brief mention of Olga da Polga she skips an opportunity to explore his true range by saying little to nothing about his bawdy, comical Monsieur Pamplemousse mystery series or any of the rest of his works. Readers will come away with a warming if not nuanced impression of a low-key man whose best-known creation reflects his own fundamental decency.

In the end, alas, not all that much more than marmalade. (map, photos, source list, index) (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64160-314-0
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020