Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book #2 for CCLRC: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (1926)

As impossible as it might be to believe, I never read Winnie-the-Pooh as a child. Sometimes I actually have a hard time remembering exactly what I did read  that didn't comprise of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. However, that is neither here nor there.

There's no need for a summary since practically everyone, whether they've read the books or not, knows the story of Pooh Bear and his friends living in the Hundred-Acre-Wood, and having their adventures with the little boy known as Christopher Robin. What I hadn't expected was the charming prose that Milne employed to tell his story. He's one of those interactive authors, sort of like C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien, who occasionally interjects himself into the conversation. As Milne is writing, or telling, this particular story, he has Christopher Robin sitting next to him, listening to the tales, asking questions, and hugging his stuffed bear, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Despite the stories being a little silly, or a lot silly, they are absolutely enchanting. I almost wish I had read them as a child because then I would appreciate them more than I can ever do as an adult. The tales are a way to awaken a child's imagination. Christopher Robin is one of those imaginative children that used to be the norm. He played with his stuffed animals in probably a little forest outside his home, and imagined they were real. I can't think of a single child of my acquaintance that would have the wherewithal to make up such a complex world of characters and so I must give kudos to both A. A. Milne for his ingenuity, and to little Christopher Robin Milne for giving him the idea in the first place.

Now, one might be surprised to learn that the characters in Milne's stories are rather different from the Disney characters we know and love. Eeyore is pretty much the same, but Piglet surprised me by quite a selfish little creature. Pooh hasn't changed one iota; he is still a bear of very little brain, but Rabbit has myriads of friends and relations who follow him and, therefore, everyone else, on their adventures.

This book covers a birthday for Eeyore, a flood in the Hundred-Acre-Wood where Pooh and Christopher Robin save Piglet, an adventure to find the North Pole, an adventure to find a Heffalump, and the time that Eeyore lost his tale, along with several other short stories. Each chapter is a different tale, although Christopher Robin does plan a party to celebrate Pooh after he came up with the idea on how to save Piglet.

So, while I never read these as a child, I want my children, when I have them, to read about Winnie-the-Pooh and learn by Christopher Robin's example. Children should have wild and vivid imaginations!


  1. I have never read Winnie-the-Pooh, though I have read The House at Pooh Corner and, like you, I was surprised at some of the characterization. Eeyore actually seemed a bit mean to me. I think "enchanting" is the perfect word to describe the prose, however. Milne's narrative voice makes me eager to return to the Hundred Acre Woods.

  2. Hmm, perhaps you're right. There was a moment where Eeyore tried to take some attention from Pooh, pretending the party Christopher Robin was giving was his and not Pooh Bear's. So, Piglet and Eeyore are more self-centered than in the cartoons.

    I also have The House at Pooh Corner on my list and can hardly wait to read it. It's interesting delving into a world I never really experienced as a child. :)

  3. I know I read this, but I didn't remember the bit about Christopher Robin sitting next to Milne listening to the tales. Charming! I absolutely agree that children should have vivid imaginations. It seems to me that imagination isn't as actively encouraged as it really should be--too much is handed to us, and creativity is treated as something that only belongs to a select few rather than something that can be cultivated. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

  4. Nice review. I love children's lit but haven't read the Pooh books yet.


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