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Paddington Bear, the creation of author Michael Bond, made his first appearance in the 1958 book A Bear Called Paddington. Since his inception, the bear has become one of the best beloved characters in children's fiction. He has appeared in numerous other novels, has inspired plays, television series, and a whole range of marketable Paddington Bear™ items, including many versions of stuffed animals.
Michael Bond was inspired to create a few stories about Paddington Bear after purchasing a rather lonely teddy bear in a store near the Paddington railroad station in London. After a few months of treatment, the Paddington Bear short story was becoming novel length, and British publisher Harper Collins eagerly accepted the work.
Paddington Bear, as a character, is first discovered at the Paddington train station. He has been sent to England from Peru by his aged Aunt Lucy, and wears a little sign around his neck that states "Please look after this bear. Thank you." The Brown family takes pity on the abandoned Paddington Bear and brings him home, where he soon becomes a vital member of the family.
Although he has the curiosity of a child, Paddington has a strong sense of morals. His curiosity often gets him into scrapes, however, as he tries to navigate English life and living in a city. His fondness for marmalade and anything sweet and sticky often turn his simple life upside down. Shopping trips and baths become chaotic affairs.
The bear also has a somewhat creative bent, especially expressed in his art, which takes first place in a contest. He is also apt to take things a bit too literally, as he does at his first theater experience when he takes on the lead actor of the play for treating the heroine poorly.
Paddington Bear is a curious mix of innocence, sweetness, and wee bit of gluttony, which continues in the many novels succeeding A Bear Called Paddington. It is sometimes difficult to find listings of the novels in appropriate order, though each novel stands on its own as a fine work of children's fiction. As well, Paddington Bear has been the subject of board books and short stories for much younger children, which can make finding all the original novels a bit challenging. The following are the original novels with publication dates:
- A Bear Called Paddington, 1958
- More about Paddington, 1959
- Paddington Helps Out, 1960
- Paddington Abroad, 1961
- Paddington at Large, 1962
- Paddington Marches On, 1964
- Paddington at Work, 1966
- Paddington Goes to Town, 1968
- Paddington Takes the Air, 1970
- Paddington on Top, 1974
- Paddington Takes the Test, 1979
Since initial publications, many of the books have been translated into numerous foreign languages. In the US, it is most common to see Paddington Bear™ books published by Puffin. Paddington Bear remains a favorite, and is a particularly good way to teach children about British colloquialisms or customs. As well, a stuffed Paddington Bear, wearing a blue coat and red or yellow hat, is sure to be a favorite toy for fans.