Now, if you know me well you’ll know I love Paddington Bear. I used to spend all my pocket money as a child on Michael Bond’s books, once got thrown out of a teachers’ library for laughing too loudly at one of the stories (Paddington Takes the Test) and still have all my childhood copies. My husband can occasionally be tempted to read the books to me, doing different voices for all the characters!
With all of that in mind I couldn’t believe my luck when Rodsanne Tolin got in touch to ask if I would review her debut children’s book More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear and I’m delighted to share my review today.
Published by Chicago Review Press on 3rd March 2020, More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear is available for purchase here.
More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear
Michael Bond never intended to be a children’s writer. Though an avid reader, he was by no means a model student and quit school at 14. He repaired rooftop radio transmitters during the bombing of Britain in World War II and later joined the army. He wrote about the war and more, selling stories here and there.
One day, while searching for inspiration at his typewriter, hoping for a big story that would allow him to write full time, a stuffed bear on top of the shelf–a Christmas present for his wife–suddenly caught his eye. Bond poured his personal feelings about the events of his era–the refugee children his family had hosted in the countryside, a war-torn country in recovery, the bustling immigrant neighborhood where he lived–into the story of a little bear from Peru who tries very, very hard to do things right. The result was A Bear Called Paddington.
An incredible true tale, More than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear is the first biography about the writer behind the beloved series. Author Rosanne Tolin reveals how world history, Bond’s life, and 1950s immigrant culture were embedded into Paddington’s creation, bringing middle-grade readers a delightful, informative, and engaging book with a timely message of acceptance.
My Review of
More than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear
A biography of Michael Bond aimed at middle grade readers.
It was a real pleasure to read More Than Marmalade. I’ve loved Paddington stories for over half a century and Rosanne Tolin pays a fond, entertaining and interesting tribute to the man who created the bear – Michael Bond.
Although some of the vocabulary is American in style (such as elevator and sidewalk) it is totally accessible to children on both sides of the Atlantic, affording an opportunity for independent reading as well as sharing with adults. Indeed, adults will enjoy this book just as much as children because it brings back memories and transports them to their initial pleasure of discovering Paddington Bear. I liked the short chapters as I feel a child could easily read one on their own. The tone is light but still manages to impart weighty themes and issues including the treatment of Jews and the effects of the second world war in society, so that reading More Than Marmalade is a treasure trove of factual detail and narrative colour. I liked the added photographs too because they give authenticity to the text.
There’s a super sense of who Michael Bond was and what kind of man he became from that book and train obsessed child. As a lifelong Paddington fan, I didn’t discover new facts but I was reminded of details I had forgotten so that I derived great pleasure from reading More Than Marmalade.
More Than Marmalade is more than a book about Michael Bond. It’s part history, part geography, part comedy and part tragedy as well as a fond and well researched insight into the man behind the bear. I found it very entertaining and really enjoyed it and I think any other Paddington fan of any age would too.
About Rosanne Tolin