THE final Paddington Bear story will be set at St Paul’s Cathedral, where a memorial service for the author, Michael Bond, will be held on Tuesday.
Mr Bond, who wrote more than 200 books, was inspired to write Paddington at St Paul’s after attending the Queen’s 90th birthday service there last year. His daughter, Karen Jankel, told The Guardian that he had been working on it “very shortly before he died. . . It’s lovely . . . he kept that magic touch right until the end.”
The story includes Paddington’s being mistaken for a choirboy. “Needless to say, being Paddington, he gets into a bit of trouble,” she said. The story will be illustrated by R. W. Alley, who has illustrated the Paddington books since 1997.
Mr Bond was born in the same year as the Queen; his reflections on his childhood were read aloud at her birthday service by another nonagenarian, Sir David Attenborough. They included being “fortunate enough to have been brought up in a house where books were part of the furniture”.
Sir David read: “It wasn’t until I reached the age of 90 that I began to realise the comfort of Louise Haskins’s words, suggesting that, when you have a problem, your best bet is to consult the man who stands at the Gate of the Year. Truly, if you put your hand into the hand of God, ‘that shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”
This passage, spoken by George VI in his Christmas broadcast in 1939, was initially of unknown provenance, until the BBC announced at midnight on Boxing Day that it was the preamble of a poem, “God Knows”, written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins, a retired academic of the London School of Economics.
Mr Bond died in June, aged 91. Paddington at St Paul’s will be published in June 2018, 60 years after the first book: A Bear Called Paddington.
All are invited to join children’s authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians,and schoolchildren at the memorial service, which begins at 11 a.m. (doors open at 10 a.m.)
Tickets can be booked at stpauls.co.uk/michaelbond.
Watch Sir David read Michael Bond’s reflections, at St Paul’s, last year: