Quirky Books: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Monday, September 27, 2010

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Copyrighted in 1926 the original "Winnie-the-Pooh" is exceptional when compared to its successors. A collection of short stories with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard each story is a few pages long, intended to be read before going to bed. Modern children stories are full of colorful illustrations and written in a poetic form. Enjoying the traditional bedtime story, this is a classic. With ten unique stories it entertains the parent and child.

A. A. Milne was a playwright. His only son is named Christopher Robin Milne. As a graduate from Cambridge there is a lingering connection between what was inspired by watching his son play in the garden and Milne's own life.

Ernest H. Shepard is also a prodigy, having earned a scholarship to the Royal Academy. The line drawings throughout the book are skilled, with technical perspective and consistent aspect ratios. People might be irritated, because Pooh doesn't wear a red shirt. Rabbit and Owl are clearly living animals. The others are stuffed animals. Kanga might be a possum.

The main character, Pooh Bear, is only second to Christopher Robin. Pooh's character is formed through Christopher's imagination. The duality is apparent in the first and last story. Milne depicts a young boy playing with his toys. Along with being aware of the parallel reality of a boy playing in the yard, Christopher ages throughout the stories. As he ages Pooh goes from barely spelling words to writing sentences.

This is an important point for children reading or listening to the story as well as parents. Often children behave in an odd manner with imaginary friends. Many would place emphasis on the creative aspect; however, this activity also encompasses problem-solving and learning to study. Though an only child, even children of a large family learn to work together to resolve problems and absorb information in similar activities. On this level, both parent and child receive the same message. Imagination and playtime are acceptable.

Well thought out, the overall parable is well intentioned and positive. Truly a children's book, parents will enjoy reading it to children and children will enjoy listening. All others can be entertained by the illustrations. It isn't much more than fun. Some attach additional philosophies to the book. This is their quirky intent and not expressed in the pages. People love the good-hearted, buffoon Pooh character.

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