Michael Bond - Paddington Here and Now (4 stars)

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Michael Bond

(HarperCollins)

KIDS COLLECTION

When a book series returns from a long absence to mark its main character’s anniversary, it can often feel too much like a rushed job created purely to ensure that the keynote guest isn’t late for their own party. Fortunately, Michael Bond has clearly kept a few choice tales in hand for the 50th birthday celebrations of the marmalade sandwich-loving bear from darkest Peru. In Paddington Here and Now, Bond has almost gone all political on us, raising the prickly subject of illegal immigration as the Browns’ long-term lodger tackles tabloid hacks, grumpy neighbours and London’s over-zealous vehicle removal businesses. Still, no one should really be mistaking a shopping basket on wheels for a motor.

At the core of Bond’s individually wrapped chapters (this time around with titles such as ‘Paddington Aims High’, ‘Paddington Spills the Beans’ and ‘Paddington’s Good Turn’) the author keeps a firm eye on the innocent and playful character who made Bond’s name and helped create a British small-screen legend thanks largely to the velvety tones of Michael Hordern.

But while the stories have a surprising tendency to be oddly moving, they are at their best when infused with a trademark gentle wit. This is best displayed when our furry hero is accidentally misleading nosey journalists or naïve policemen though, as ever, without a bone of malice in his tiny Peruvian body.

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