64 years ago today on October 13, 1958, Paddington Bear first appeared in the children’s book: A Bear Called Paddington. Did you know that the beloved character was inspired by Jewish children who escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport? Creator Michael Bond (1926-2017) was motivated by his memories of children arriving at London’s Reading station during WWII. These young refugees each carried a small suitcase and wore labels around their necks to identify them. It’s no coincidence that in the book, the little bear is found sitting on his suitcase in Paddington Station in London with a note around his neck that reads, “Please take care of this bear. Thank you.” He is discovered and adopted by the Brown family, thus the name Paddington Bear. In the story, Paddington’s best friend is Mr. Samuel Gruber, an elderly Jew from Hungary who escaped the Nazis.
Paddington even had the privilege of meeting Queen Elizabeth II during her Platinum Jubilee. Everyone’s favorite bear joined the late monarch for tea in Buckingham Palace and the two rejoiced over their shared love of marmelade sandwiches. Like so many others around the world, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth loved Paddington, the little bear with a big heart.
Contributor: Jill Goltzer