Reviewed January 8, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book
(#3, Young Adult and Children's Classic Rereads)
Many different editions are in
print. First written in 1926.
Available at Sembach Library (JF MIL)
Last week, my husband and I went to Rothenburg
for our 15th wedding anniversary. In a cute Teddy Bear
shop, I found Pu der Bär
in German. I couldn’t resist buying a copy. After all,
the language is simple, and I have many parts of the English version
memorized. What better prop could I find for my pursuit of
Learning German Without Actually Speaking to a German?
On thinking about it later, I realized that Winnie-the-Pooh
was an especially appropriate purchase for a Special Occasion
of Remembrance. This prompted the following:
“Reflections on Winnie-the-Pooh.
is one of the first books
I remember my mother reading to me, sitting in her lap in the
rocking chair. I remember it as being one of the three
books I checked out from the “big part” of the library. The
others were The Poppy-Seed Cakes,
and The Bears on Hemlock
whose authors I don’t remember. I seem to remember
a big library that we only went to occasionally in Renton. (As
opposed to a smaller library that we visited more regularly.
Could this actually be based in fact?) And I remember getting
Winnie-the-Pooh from a big, huge, towering shelf. I must have
been three or four.
Part of the charm of my early memories of Pooh
were that the words made perfect sense to me. When I was
told that Piglet’s grandfather was named “Trespassers Will,” which
was short for “Trespassers William,” and that he was named Trespassers
after an uncle and William after Trespassers, I simply accepted this
statement. When Pooh takes Piglet’s hand in case Piglet is frightened,
I simply found that kind of him.
Part of the delight of re-discovering Pooh my
Freshman year of college (or so) was realizing how delightfully
funny the whole thing is. The fact is, A. A. Milne captures
exactly the way small children think. I remembered thinking
this way myself, and was delighted to now be in on the joke.
Later that year, I held my very first all-nighter,
writing a term paper for English 101. This would have
been fine--It was duly finished at 6:30, before I had to go to
school. The only problem was that at 8:30, I had a Calculus
test. Mind you, I had taken Calculus in high school and knew
this material backwards and forwards. But that was the hardest
Math test I’ve ever taken in my life. My mind refused to function.
I went over and over that test, managing to squeeze out a little more
information on each pass through. Afterwards, someone joked to
me about how easy I must have found it, and I burst into tears.
Put simply, I was a basket case!
At lunch time, I had to wait for a ride home.
I called up a friend for comfort. I must have sounded pathetic.
He came right over to the Eagle’s Nest where I was eating lunch--and
recited a chapter of The House at Pooh Corner.
was the chapter where Tigger bounces Eeyore into the river.
He recited it with great enthusiasm, and cheered me up immensely.
is at its most delightful
when read (or recited) aloud. I still had very young brothers
and sisters, so I tried it out on them. One year, when the
choir drove up for its annual Yosemite retreat, we got a group of us
in the back of a station wagon.
Without question, the most momentous occasion
touching my life was on May 17,
1984. I was having breakfast in the cafeteria after my 6:45
bowling class. I ran into a certain young man named Steve Eklund.
My companion and I mentioned the Open House our dorm was having that
night. Somehow or other, it came up that reading Winnie-the-Pooh
is a delightful group activity. Steve agreed to come to the
Open House to read Winnie-the-Pooh.
It went wonderfully well. Steve brought
some friends, and I had some other friends there. We had
quite a crowd of us squeezed around the book, each one taking a
different voice. When it was all over, it dawned on me, “Sondy,
you just fell for that guy!” It was true. What can I
say? He does a really great Eeyore.
And that wasn’t the end of Winnie-the-Pooh’s
touching my life. Both of my sons very first flights of
imagination involved taking on the role of Piglet. I well
remember 3-year-old Josh walking up to me. I said, “Hi, Josh!”
and he answered in a high, squeaky voice, “My name is Piglet!”
Later on, when Timmy first learned to write his name, he spelled it P-O-O-H.
That year for Christmas, we labelled all of our gifts “To Piglet, From
Pooh;” or “To Pooh, From Tigger,” and the like, to humor Timmy.
Even now, with my boys 13 and 8, we can have
a great time as a family reading the books all together, each
taking a different character. It’s an activity I hope we’ll
Truly A. A. Milne’s classics are unsurpassed
as a first chapter book to read to a little one. Have you
noticed that there are no villains? Children’s cartoons always
seem to put in a bad guy, but they are scarce in children’s books.
Mind you, in the Saturday morning cartoons that Disney made from
Winnie-the-Pooh, they tried to stick in villains here and there, but
it only came out silly. They did the best with Winnie-the-Pooh
where they stick to the books. Pooh is so much more than Cute.
Of course, I have enjoyed some of Disney’s commercialization
of Winnie-the-Pooh. Last count, I had five different Winnie-the-Pooh
shirts. I’m wearing one right now. I also have a
Winnie-the-Pooh watch, a key chain, and a pair of socks from Disneyland
Paris that is almost worn out. I guess you’d have to call me
a hard-core Pooh fan.
I’ve already read two chapters of Pu der Bär.
Alas! My family isn’t too keen on hearing this one read
aloud. And “Bei Bienen kann man nie wissen” doesn’t have
the same ring to it as “You never can tell with bees.” However,
I will persevere, enjoying the delighted remembrances that it stirs
up of my many years with Winnie-the-Pooh.
Reviews of related books:
audio version of this book
Pooh and the
by John Tyerman Williams
The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh
, by Kathryn Aalto
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
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