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Summary: This is a recently-written (2008) chapter book with beloved Paddington Bear as our hero. The story has been modernized to include some current technology (cell phones and internet usage) while maintaining the simple silliness of this charming character and his adopted family. Each chapter is a separate event, so it could be easily read one chapter at a time, without the reliance on retention between chapters. Sample adventures include an incident with a cat burglar, a grand piano recital, and a visit from a long-lost rich uncle. This is a collection of short stories featuring Paddington Bear for a 21st century audience.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book, transitional reader, illustrated chapter
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 4 to 12
Reading Level: 5.3
Age of Child: Read with children ages 4 and 6.
Young Reader Reaction: My children liked the book, but did not react strongly to it. I think it was partially because the writing used some of the terminology from the United Kingdom, so some of the meanings of key words were lost on my kids. In addition, the humor was a bit more subtle and mature than what is common for books geared towards 4-6 year olds, so perhaps ages 8 and older may have a more positive experience.
Adult Reader Reaction: I liked the book OK. I thought the content was appropriate for kids, as far as providing a positive influence on kids (no violence, no emotional burden, etc.). It was light-hearted and safe. I was not overwhelmed by the writing, but was happy that I felt comfortable reading the book without previewing it first to make sure it would not scare my children or set inappropriate examples.
I was not surprised at my boys' reaction, but I was surprised at mine. I don't recall having read a Paddington story, but from the popularity of this iconic bear, I would have expected a bit more. I don't know if that is because this particular book is not up to the same standards as previous stories, or if it is in perfect alignment with this author's previous works and I would not have raved about his other books, either.
Pros: These are safe stories that provide mature, dry humor. Your kids will have to think a bit to understand the humor -- a great challenge for the right age.
Cons: The English colloquialisms (non-US references) interferes a bit with understanding the story. This is too advanced for the stated reading audience, The book has themes / vocabulary too mature for this audience
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a book that is interesting to read, and die-hard Paddington fans may opt to purchase the book. However, I would borrow the book from the library before making the investment.
Educational Themes: Paddington has been a story to be enjoyed for its own merits. Although there are no explicit educational lessons, one might be the challenge of culling out the humor. This is a positive challenge for the right child.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.