Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1059
Reprint of a Classic
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
When school inspectors come to the Browns' door and claim that it is necessary for Paddington to report to school, everyone is a bit surprised. At first, it sounds like a good idea, since they take rolls (role), but after his teacher, Mr. Eustace, confiscates all of his marmalade sandwiches, Paddington has his doubts. Sensing that the bear will be trouble, Mr. Eustace sends him out to get the fish for science class, and the bear of course comes back with fish fingers instead of something that can be dissected. In the end, the school feels that Paddington can wait out a bit longer, perhaps until he finds a uniform. Other stories within this volume include a venture selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, visiting the Royal Courts of Justice, a birthday treat, and an attempt at physical fitness.

These are all episodic, and Paddington remains his cheerful, somewhat dense self throughout each story. He is, of course, extremely well meaning, and most of the people with whom he comes in contact are glad to help him out, even if they are a little confused by him. This book is a bit unusual because the Brown children must be off at school, and Paddington interacts mainly with adults in his neighborhood, especially his friend Mr. Gruber.
Good Points
The first book in this series of twelve, A Bear Called Paddington, came out in 1958, and Paddington on Top was originally published in 1974. There is definitely an old-fashioned quality to the narrative as well as the settings. Letting children (or bears!) leave school, people selling things door-to-door, and even small details like Paddington raising his hat in greeting are all occurrences that modern young readers may not understand. For those of us who remember such things, however, this book is a very gentle, comforting read, and the Peggy Fortnum illustrations reinforce that cozy quality.

Michael Bond passed away in 2017, but readers who enjoy classics like Sharp's The Rescuers, Streatfields Shoe books, and the stories of Roald Dahl will enjoy the Amelia Bedelia-like adventures of our favorite bear from Darkest Peru. The popularity of the more recent movies will make this accesible to those who have been introduced to Paddington's world on screen as well.
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