Paddington at St Paul’s

This May, 2018, the last Paddington picture book that Michael Bond wrote is being published.

As always, Paddington finds himself in a bit of hot water. This time he gets swept up into the boys choir at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It turns out bears have an unusual approach to the choral canon of church music. You’ll have to read the book to discover the details.

As always, Mr Bond found this most recent Paddington adventure in the usual sideways fashion that seems the way of clever authors. For the Queen’s 90th birthday, celebrated at St Paul’s, Mr Bond was asked to write a few appropriate words. In preparation, he took the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour of the grand building. Frankly, I think he would have been the first admit that the tour and the commissioned words had nothing to do with one another. He just wanted to see the parts of the building to which the general public didn’t have access. Who wouldn’t?

Of course, Mr Bond, being Mr Bond, couldn’t help but consider how Paddington might navigate a building of such scale and history. And, thus, this story was born.

When it came time to illustrate the story, and after complaining about how easy it was for Mr Bond to write the words “St Paul’s Cathedral” while noting how complicated it was to draw Mr Wren’s annoying detailed building, I also wangled a behind the scenes tour. The kind canon showing me around turned the other check to my taking a few clandestine photos to make sure the details got put down correctly.  Following here are some photos, early sketches and final drawings. Enjoy.

The first thing I needed to do was to see how Paddington would fit in with the choir.

Initial sketches went from pretty rough to more polished black and white……then to full color.

Next I tried to picture Paddington in the cathedral, in a progression like this…

All was going well.

So, relying on my sneaky photos from the Whispering Gallery, I put together the page in which Paddington sees a disturbance in the nave while he peers over the railing of the gallery. Then he rushes down the twisty stone stairs to help out.

Later in the choir rehearsal room, Paddington continues to impress with his singing skill.

But, of course all ends well in the vast upstairs…

…and I figured out how to draw a cathedral and Paddington returned to number 32 Windsor Gardens with a book of postcards to send his Aunt Lucy at the Home For Retired Bears in Peru, because Paddington knows that receiving something special in the mail always makes a bear’s, or a person’s, day better.





Michael Bond

Michael Bond, my friend for 20 years, has passed away. He was a kind, gentle and welcoming man. And, of course, an excellent writer and storyteller. I will greatly miss the happy surprise of reading his manuscript for the latest Paddington adventure and miss the happy weeks spent picturing it. Michael’s gift to the world continues in his many books for children and adults. Thank you, Michael, for this gift.

From HarperCollins Publishers:

London, 28 June 2017:
It is with great sadness that we announce that Michael Bond, CBE, the creator of one of Britain’s best-loved children’s characters, Paddington, died at home yesterday aged 91 following a short illness. Published by HarperCollins for almost 60 years, Michael was a giant of children’s literature, his first book A Bear Called Paddington was published in 1958. In his long and illustrious career he published over 200 books for children. As well as Paddington, he also created characters including Olga da Polga and A Mouse Called Thursday along with a series of adult novels, featuring the detective Monsieur Pamplemousse. Over 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide and enjoyed by generations of children. The books went on to inspire toys, TV programmes and most recently the movie, Paddington produced by David Heyman for Studiocanal, and the second film eagerly awaited later this year. Michael’s latest Paddington novel, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April 2017 by HarperCollins.
Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books said: “I feel privileged to have been Michael Bond’s publisher – he was a true gentleman, a bon viveur, the most entertaining company and the most enchanting of writers. He will be forever remembered for his creation of the iconic Paddington, with his duffle coat and wellington boots, which touched my own heart as a child and will live on in the hearts of future generations. My thoughts and love are with his wife, Sue and his children Karen and Anthony.”
Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins CEO said: ‘Michael Bond was one of the great children’s writers and at HarperCollins we are immensely fortunate to have published him and to have known him. He was a wonderful man and leaves behind one of the great literary legacies of our time.”



This is my first blog on my new website.

As always, beginnings are tricky.

One way to address a new beginning, is to revisit a past beginning.

Second grade. 1962.  Just north of Charleston, South Carolina.  My parents and I at the Brookgreen Gardens, a sculpture park founded by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband, Archer Huntington.  (more…)