Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review - Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne




A.A. Milne


Category: Children’s

Synopsis: A series of stories about Christopher Robin’s bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, and his friends.

Date finished: 19 August 2013

Rating: ****½

I love this silly old bear.

My goodness. Can you believe I’ve never read this book? We didn’t have a copy growing up, but several of the stories in it were very familiar. I know we had some Golden Book Pooh stories, so that must be my first encounter. I also read along hearing the characters’ voices which I attribute to an animated version of the stories. But I soon learned they’d taken some license with the characters for the cartoon audience. Pooh Bear was earnest and helpful, Piglet was naïve but sweet, Rabbit was sharp-tongued, Owl was wise, Eeyore was dour but still sort of friendly, and Kanga was sweet. All in all, a very palatable, if stereotypical, group. In the book, however, Pooh is a blockhead (stuffinghead?), Piglet is afraid of his own shadow, Rabbit is pretty mean, Owl is a poser, Eeyore is not someone you’d want to be around for any length of them, and Kanga is only looking out for number one (and number 1½, Roo).
I was surprised at the grittiness of the characters and their interactions—much more like real children’s interactions than the sanitized TV version. What the animated show had in sweetness, the book had in charm. Milne was brilliant in the way he related to children. So astute. So very clever.

So, although I’m one of the last adults on earth to have read this book, if you have never—or haven’t for a while—pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

My favorite moment, happening right at the end:

     “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

     “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say?”
     “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

     “It’s the same thing,” he said.

P.S. One of the reasons I found this book so charming, I’m sure, is due to the copy I read. I borrowed the 1961 version from the university library’s IMC. It’s all threadbare, taped up, obviously much-loved, and lies completely flat when opened.
I was so enchanted by this particular edition that I hopped onto eBay and bought a copy of it and House at Pooh Corner. Absolutely mint, $10 for the pair. But I’d trade them in a minute for the very copy I read.

The copy I checked out (on the left) and the "new" old copy I bought on eBay. Aren't they wonderful?
I kind of have a feeling that when I return it, it will go directly to the Cataloging mend-it crew who will pronounce it a lost cause. Perhaps the withdrawn version will end up on the book sale shelf for me to buy!
Would you recommend this to a friend?

No comments:

Post a Comment