January 13 – Happy Birthday, Michael Bond!

Posted on January 13, 2016

He dropped out of school at age 14, but he now has an Honorary Doctor of Letters from a university.

He survived a deadly air raid during World War II and then volunteered for the Royal Air Force when he was just 17, but he was discharged for air sickness – and spent the rest of the war serving in the British Army.

Born on this date in 1926, Michael Bond said he wouldn't mind being a writer—he'd already sold a short story or two, and he'd produced a few plays—but his main job was being a BBC television cameraman. 

But that was before he published his first book, A Bear Called Paddington. That story—about a bear from Darkest Peru, whose Aunt Lucy sends him to England wearing an old hat and a duffle coat, and carrying a jar of marmalade—was a big hit.

How big? Big enough that Bond has written 26 Paddington books, which have been published in around 20 countries in over 40 languages. Big enough that more than 35 million Paddington books have been sold! Big enough that there has been a film, a TV series, and countless stuffed / plush Paddington bears. Big enough that there have ALSO been many other assorted items—from smocks and a special Paddington Bear duffle coat to lunch boxes and suitcases—and even Paddington Bear marmalade!
Paddington Bear has a million different "looks,"
from animated cartoon to plush toy, to CGI movie.

Big enough that Paddington Bear has appeared on a Royal Mail stamp, on a Google doodle, and with one of the balloons of the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

According to Wikipedia, Paddington Bear has even inspired “pop bands, race horses, plays...” In 2014, Paddington Trail was launched in London, with 50 Paddington Bear statues made by artists, designers, and celebrities placed near parks, shops, and landmarks. After Londoners and tourists enjoyed following the trail for a few months, the statues were auctioned off, with the proceeds going to charity.

Here are just a few of the bear statues:

Some celebrities posed with "their" bear statues.
Here is Benedict Cumberbatch with his Sherlock Bear.

  • As opposed to all those temporary
    London statues decorated so
    differently by celebrities, this
    Paddington Bear statue is permanently
    on display - at the Paddington Station!

  • Check out “Shine,” by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, with loads of clips from the recent movie. 

I read that Paddington Bear is the second-best-known bear in fiction. Can you guess who is even better known?

(Answer waaaaaayyy down at the bottom V.)

Also on this date:

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Answer: Winnie the Pooh is considered by many to be the best-known bear in fiction.

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