100 Essential Books – Winnie The Pooh – A A Milne (1926)

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Some days just feel like Pooh days, and more often than not they are pooh days in every sense as they are the times I feel like escaping from the realities of the world we’re living in and retreat to the Hundred Acres Wood for a bit of sanity, Winnie The Pooh style.

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I’m not sure AA Milne knew exactly what he was unleashing when he decided to put together the bedtime stories he’d been telling his son using his toys as characters and that almost 90 years later this publication would still remain one of the greatest children’s books ever.  In fact, the philosophies of Pooh and his friends expounded in this book and its follow-up “The House At Pooh Corner” (1928) (which introduced the irrepressible Tigger) makes it an essential also on every adult bookshelf.

I certainly read and had read to me this book as a child but I was a greater fan then of the Disneyfication of Pooh and it wasn’t really until I hit my late teenage years that Milne’s original creation became dominant.  Whilst at college I had quite a little collection of EH Shepard’s illustrations on mugs, towels, postcards etc and was well versed in the wisdom of this extraordinary little bear and his pals.  In 2003 the BBC Big Reads survey (still the definitive list of what is good for us combined with what we enjoy in our books) placed this at number 7, so it is a book held dearly in a lot of hearts.

On every read I become totally captivated and surprised by how much stays with me.  I also feel this way about Milne’s children’s poetry collection “When We Were Very Young” (1924).  Luckily, it was not just Christopher Robin Milne who benefited from these wonderful stories and characters as generations will have come to love Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo.  As each character is introduced in the book a warm feeling envelopes the reader and it was a sheer delight once again to experience Pooh getting stuck in Rabbit’s doorway, Eeyore losing his tail and celebrating his birthday miserably and Piglet getting flooded in.  Magical stuff!

I’ll leave you with two examples of the logic of Pooh in case you’ve not read this for a while;

It’s like this,” he (Pooh) said. “When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming.  Now if you have a green balloon, they might think you were only part of the tree, and not notice you, and if you have a blue balloon, they might think you were only a part of the sky, and not notice you, and the question is : Which is most likely?”

“Wouldn’t they notice you underneath the balloon?” you asked.

“They might or they might not,” said Winnie-the-Pooh. “You can never tell with bees.”  He thought for a moment and said: “I shall try to look like a small black cloud.  That will deceive them.”

“Then you better have the blue balloon,” you said and so it was decided.

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And there’s Piglet surrounded by water and putting into early practice one of the tenets of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy of modelling your actions on someone who would be successful at a problem;

“There’s Pooh, “ he thought to himself.  “Pooh hasn’t much Brain, but he never comes to any harm.  He does silly things and they turn out right.  There’s Owl.  Owl hasn’t exactly got Brain, but he Knows Things.  He would know the Right Thing to Do when surrounded by Water.  There’s Rabbit.  He hasn’t Learnt in Books, but he can always Think of a Clever Plan.  There’s Kanga.  She isn’t Clever, Kanga isn’t, but she would be so anxious about Roo that she would do a Good Thing to Do without thinking about it.  And then there’s Eeyore.  And Eeyore is so miserable anyhow that we wouldn’t mind about this.  But I wonder what Christopher Robin would do?”piglet

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Winnie The Pooh was published in 1926.  Egmont produce a classic edition with the unforgettable illustrations by E H Shepard.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “100 Essential Books – Winnie The Pooh – A A Milne (1926)

  1. How sweet to be a cloud floating in the blue, every little cloud loves to sing aloud. Word to that effect. I was given these books by Auntie Marge and Uncle Arthur when I was seven and read them so much the books fell apart. I feel really sorry for anyone who has never read or had read to them these stories.(Wayne doesn’t know them, only the Disney version) . I was disappointed with the Disney Pooh at first, he has grown on me over the years but I still like to hide away with my books which will soon need replacing again. I do quite often go back to them. I love Eyeore, he reminds me of several people I know. I think that is the beauty of the characters, they all remind you of someone. (Isn’t it funny how a bear likes honey, buzz buzz buzz, I wonder why he does) Phil, you have made my day. The stories are really simple but at the same time quite an insight into the behaviour and thought processes of how people actually think. A terrific education for Christopher Robin without seeming to be. For me a real escape, Winnie the Pooh and his friends give me a warm glowing feeling. I’m going to get the books off of the shelf. And as always a terrific review.

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    • I think one of the genius things about this book is how clearly we can identify with these characters. On a typical day I can move between being Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Pooh. I’d like to be Tigger most of the time but it’s too exhausting!!

      Liked by 1 person

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