Monday, April 21, 2014

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne; decorations by Ernest H. Shepard (1926)

The last exposure to Winnie the Pooh I had (other than riding the psychedelic Pooh ride at Disneyland a few weeks ago) was listening to The Collected Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh in 2011, with a full cast of British Actors of Note.  I re-read my blog posts from way back when, and am now reminded of how much I thoroughly loved listening to it.

I wasn't so thoroughly in love with reading it this time.

I remember not liking this first Pooh book when reading them as a kid; I think I remember them as being difficult to read and understand (Paddington was worse; I had a good friend who loved Paddington, but I could never, ever get into them, finding them really hard reading; I've never tried them since).

Maybe Pooh is meant to be heard, not read to yourself.

I thought the interjection of Christopher Robin and Milne into the story was sort of awkward.

Some of the Shepard illustrations are terrific; a few are really, really sentimental and Holly Hobbyish.  Pooh illustrations have been pummeled into the ground by commercialism anyway.

"Pooh Goes Visiting" and  "Eeyore Has A Birthday" are terrific stories.  My favorite Pooh story of all time is still "Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded By Water," although I'm not a big fan of the ending.

I love "Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest and Piglet Has a Bath."  It's a great story on face value - really funny.  It also has a great message about xenophobia and immigrants.  Rabbit is such a type - middle class values, wary of strangers, patriotic.  If Rabbit were American, he'd be a Republican, through and through.  Pooh and Piglet are the gullible masses, who at their heart know they are doing something wrong.

Winnie-the-PoohWinnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While a adoring devotee of the world of Pooh, I do think some of the stories are humorous.  I particularly like  "Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest and Piglet Has a Bath" which is not only a very funny story, but has some sharp commentary on xenophobia how communities treat immigrants.  The entire cast of characters is here in full force (sans Tigger, who appears in the next book).  I really do think though that Winnie-the-Pooh needs to be read aloud or heard; it's not as much fun otherwise.

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