Paddington Here and Now

(HarperCollins) 0000

When a book series returns from a long absence to mark its main character’s anniversary, it can often feel too much like a rushed job created purely to ensure that the keynote guest isn’t late for their own party. Fortunately, Michael Bond has clearly kept a few choice tales in hand for the 50th birthday celebrations of the marmalade sandwich-loving bear from darkest Peru. ln Paddington Here and Now, Bond has almost gone all political on us, raising the prickly subject of illegal immigration as the Browns’ long-term lodger tackles tabloid hacks, grumpy neighbours and London’s over-zealous vehicle removal businesses. Still, no one should really be mistaking a shopping basket on wheels for a motor.

At the core of Bond’s individually wrapped chapters (this time around with titles such as ‘Paddington Aims High’, ‘Paddington Spills the Beans’ and ‘Paddington’s Good Turn’) the author keeps a firm eye on the innocent and playful character who made Bond’s name and helped create a British small- screen legend thanks largely to the velvety tones of Michael Hordern.

But while the stories have a surprising tendency to be oddly moving, they are at their best when infused with a trademark gentle wit. This is best displayed when our furry hero is accidentally misleading nosey journalists or nai've policemen though, as ever, without a bone of malice in his tiny Peruvian body. (Brian Donaldson)


Kick the Animal Out (Portobello) O.

For this French writer's fourth novel (but first in translation). we are in the head of 15-year-old Rose. a girl who spends much of her time on her apartments roof terrace wearing a cape and playing with her rabbits. Rose looks. acts and thinks younger than she is. and when her mother mysteriously walks out on her and her stepfather Mr Loyal. her adolescent imagination races with possible reasons.

Véronique Ovalde

does a decent job of

getting inside her young narrator's thoughts. but it's not necessarily the most exciting place to be. The author‘s depiction of place is better, Rose‘s rundown seaside resort home and her mother's mountainous goldmine

hometown spring from the page full of life; if only her characters and plot did the same. Dealing not particularly deeply with themes of truth versus lies and imagination versus

reality. this is a book that f

places quirkiness ahead of genuine insight. (Doug Johnstone)


U AN GHEENFIELD ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21 st Century (Sceptre) 000

Susan Greenfield. the Oxford-based professor. neuroscientist and broadcaster, is worried

that modern living is pushing us towards a more dumbed-down society, where addictive. hedonistic. self-centred behaviour is winning out over more taxing, old- fashioned fads like sensible self-control or ‘thinking deeply‘. Drawing heavily from scientific research, she explains what's happening in the brain when we play poker, eat compulsively or feel

heartbroken. and blames

new technology as one reason why they're all on the rise.

Her look at what might

lie ahead for a generation

raised on Facebook, ID cards and recreational drugs is thought- provoking, if slightly

bogged down in parts by

long chapters of

textbook style academia.

But for those not already suffering from 21 st century ADHD or a constant need for senSOry thrills. Greenfield's challenging

discussion gives the grey

matter a work-out. and asks a few scary questions about what might be happening to our individuality.

(Claire Sawers)


Hope For Newborns (Faber) coo

After the success of debut No Fireworks. Rodge Glass returns to themes of lapsing Judaism, focusing on what it means to be British in an age where homeland pride is a

misty-eyed memory. and

an anomaly to third generation immigrants. Lewis is a young 20- something stifled by his feudal family and self- imposed reclusion; dividing his time

between a soulless office

job in which he secretly takes great satisfaction, duties in his father's

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patriotic and besieged barber shop and caring

for his defiantly mute and

reticent mother. Having

long dreamed of shelving

his responsibilities and touring the globe, a convenient and quiet escape presents itself in a mysterious call to arms.

It can be a bleak read. though not unrelenting. and the humour is slight if observationally astute. Rather than the anticipated grand boy- meets-world travelogue, Hope For Newborns proves more kitchen sink in its scope and. true to life. offers no guarantee of resolution. (Mark Edmundson)


In Person: 30 Poets (Bloodaxe) 000


Tucked inside the book of the same name comes a smart pair of DVDs which platform the depth and range which poetry publisher Bloodaxe have been offering us for three decades. In Person is a celebration of the intimacy that can make poetry great and also a confession that verse-

reading has the capacity

to be deathly dull. Filmed mainly within their own comfort zones. the 30 poets number the likes of lmtiaz Dharker. Helen Dunmore, Jackie Kay. Adrian Mitchell, Naomi


5 FATHER’S DAY BOOKS Andrew Clover Dad Rules Subtitled ‘What I Learned from My Girls’, this book based on the columns from this actor and stand-up is all about being in touch with your feminine side when it comes to fatherhood. Fig Tree.

Sarah Brown I. (III McNeil (eds) Dads The PM’s wife collaborates on getting this collection together from the likes of Ian Rankin, Bill Bryson, David Tennant and, um, Jilly Cooper. Ebury. Daniel Mater Footypedia If you're struggling with post- trophy stress disorder and can’t wait for the Euros to begin, this dictionary has all the daft terminology and fussy detail any sad lad could need. Century.

Robert Mggor Real Men Eat Puffer Fish Not sure that's strictly the case but no doubt the ever- adventurous Twigger will make such claims vividly entertaining. Weidenfe/d & Nico/son.

Richard Porter & Olles Chapman My Dad Wished He Had One of Those And the kinds of things dad wished he had are Ferrari Daytonas, Lamborghini Muiras and other such car- like objects. Hodder & Stoughton.

Shihab Nye and Anne Stevenson, though there’s no one else on the discs with the fizz of Brummie-Jamaican creator Benjamin Zephaniah.

His tales of racial and gender politics are the most captivating stories on show and he is in possession of a style that is best described as

compelling. In the often staid world of poetry,

the likes of Zephaniah are a rare breed and with slamming on the rise. the sit—down poet may be a dinosaur of the past within the next 30 years.

(Brian Donaldson)

22 May-5 Jun 2008 THE LIST 35