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Literature / Paddington Bear

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A reprint of A Bear Called Paddington, the first book in the series.

"Please Look After This Bear. Thank You."

A series of books first appearing in 1958, written by Michael Bond, about the antics of a small anthropomorphic brown bear who lives with an ordinary London family. Paddington is usually seen wearing a blue duffel coat (a somewhat old-fashioned warm coat fastened by toggles) and rather shapeless black hat (though more modern versions sometimes give him a red hat instead, or even reverse the colours for a blue hat and red coat).

Paddington books continued to be written throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and spawned a TV series of 5 minute shorts that ran from 1975 to 1986. The unique visual style (Paddington himself is a stop-motion figure, the backgrounds are black-and-white line drawings and the other characters are 2D paper cutouts) and catchy theme tune led to it becoming a well-loved childhood favourite. Another more traditional animated series ran from 1997 to 2000 under the name The Adventures of Paddington Bear.

A live-action movie was released in December of 2014, with Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington. A sequel was released late 2017 with Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson joining the cast.

Paddington's creator Michael Bond passed away in June 2017 to universal sorrow from the British public.

These books contains examples of:

  • Accidental Bid: Paddington Bear once went to an auction. He found it a very friendly place. People kept on waving at him, so naturally he waved back...
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Until Paddington Marches On (1964), where he gets Wellington boots for Christmas. This became established as part of his Iconic Outfit because it let the soft toys stand upright.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted, yet also played straight in a mild way. Paddington is courteous, completely non-violent, and freaking adorable, yet has quite a knack for getting into all sorts of trouble, whether it's accidentally destroying his neighbor's hammock, letting a marmalade sandwich slip inside a film projector, or trashing the kitchen with one of his sloppy baking attempts.
  • Beary Friendly: He may be accident-prone and naive, but Paddington is unfailingly friendly, polite, and well-meaning.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Tends to be the fate of everyone who tries to pull a fast one on a certain Peruvian bear. Mr. Curry tends to come in for the most and worst of it, but then he is one of those neighbors that takes advantage.
  • Comic-Book Time: Although London changes, Paddington and the Browns don't.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mr. Gruber, the kindly old Hungarian man who runs the local antiques shop. As a fellow immigrant, he quickly forms a strong connection with Paddington, who regularly visits him for "elevenses".
  • Covers Always Lie: Averted in the first edition, but the covers of modern editions almost unfailingly show Paddington in a blue duffel coat and red hat. Paddington's hat is (mostly) black, and he receives his duffel coat during a shopping trip with the Browns.
    • Actually a conflation of two hats; Paddington's original hat and the red knit hat he received from the same shopping trip.
  • Crossover: Two books featured Paddington's adventures with the cast of Blue Peter, for which Michael Bond worked as a cameraman.
  • Death Glare: Paddington's "hard stare".
  • Doorstop Baby: The Browns found him sitting on the platform of Paddington Station, near the lost property office, with a label round his neck bearing the words "Please Look After This Bear. Thank You."
  • Dub Name Change: The Russian translation changed Mr. Gruber's name to Kruber, since in Russian, gruby means "rude" or "uncouth".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In early editions, some of the small illustrations occasionally showed Paddington smoking a cigar a la Winston Churchill. This obviously is now considered completely inappropriate for a children's book and later editions removed or replaced these.
  • Fish out of Water: One of the main sources of humor and plot. Paddington emigrated from Darkest Peru and thus is very unfamiliar with British life. How unfamiliar? In the first chapter, Mister Brown takes him to a buffet and buys him a cream-filled bun — which he proceeds to eat while sitting on the table. (To be fair, he had to stand on the chair to reach the table).
  • Friendly Shopkeeper: Mr. Gruber, who owns a local antique store and is Paddington's best friend outside the Brown family.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Curry.
  • I Choose to Stay: One storyline saw the Browns arranging for Paddington to return to Peru for his Aunt Lucy's hundredth birthday, despite being anxious about the possibility of him choosing to stay in Peru. However, when Paddington affirms that he's leaving most of his things in Windsor Gardens for safe keeping, the Browns are all relieved at this proof that he intends to come back to England.
  • Informed Species: Judging by the fact that he's from Peru, Paddington is probably meant to be a spectacled bear. However, his resemblance to a real spectacled bear is zilch.
  • Innocently Insensitive: While naturally very polite and kind-hearted, Paddington's naivety and curiosity sometimes results in this. For instance, upon seeing a bald man on a very windy day in one story, Paddington asks him if his hair blew away.
  • The Klutz: Paddington on many occasions. It's somewhat justified, as bears' paws don't allow for as much dexterity as human hands.
  • Last-Name Basis: Although they are close friends, Paddington always addressed Mr. Gruber as "Mr. Gruber", and Mr. Gruber always addresses Paddington as "Mr. Brown".
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified, as Paddington had only his heirloom hat for clothing when he arrived. That said, it's amazing how the illustrators never remember that he also has a red knit hat with pompoms, as well as a green beret, both presents from the Browns.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: What can we call a bear who's found at Paddington Station? I have an idea...
  • Mathematician's Answer: In one book, Paddington appears on a television quiz show and befuddles the quizmaster by giving answers that are correct, but don't match the ones on his cards. For example, when asked how long each piece would be if you cut an eight foot long board into four equal pieces, Paddington says eight feet. The quizmaster tells him he's wrong, it's two feet, but Paddington says that bears cut planks lengthwise for safety so you'd end up with four planks eight feet long. Under pressure from the studio audience to allow the answer, the rattled quizmaster concedes the point.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Paddington is a bear from Peru, but looks like a brown bear from the Northern Hemisphere.
    • Averted in the books, thanks to a keen-eyed editor. Originally, Paddington was going to be from Darkest Africa, but there are no native bears among the wildlife in that area. That said, of course, Paddington did say he was a very rare sort of bear.
    • The whole series can be regarded as playing on this trope, considering the premise is a bear living with a human family in London.
  • Nice Guy: Paddington is one of the most charming and polite people you could meet.
  • Orwellian Retcon: On a minor scale. More modern editions of the Paddington books have sometimes added sequences where the Bear is informed just how dangerous certain stunts he's done actually are (such as taking apart a television set) and Paddington exclaims that he hopes no young children ever imitate such an unsafe act.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr Curry actually calls to enquire after Paddington's health after the bear is taken ill in one story, and even brings presents of fruit and calves' foot jelly, seriously advising that the latter is especially good for invalids.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Paddington always enjoys marmalade.
  • Truth in Television: Paying close attention to the text reveals Paddington to be a spectacled bear, based on his description. Spectacled bears are a very rare sort of bear, live in Peru, and mostly eat fruit and honey — two traditional ingredients in marmalade.
  • Weirdness Censor: Everyone in London seems surprisingly cool that the Browns have adopted a bear. That talks.
    Taxi Driver: Bears is sixpence extra. Sticky bears is ninepence.
    • Truth in Television because, well, this is London. As long as you act civilized, they really don't care what species you are.
    • In contrast, when Paddington competes in a popular TV game show, the host briefly experiences Sanity Slippage. Though it's hard to say whether that's because he was a bear (and thus the source of some truly horrible puns by the host) or because his answers were... unusual. Or both.