Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reading Winnie-the-Pooh as an Adult

As popular as Winnie the Pooh was when I was a kid, I never actually read any of the original stories until very recently. I remember Pooh cartoons and Pooh stickers (stickers were SUCH a thing with the girls when I was in grade school -- does anyone else remember this???) And if my parents ever read me any Pooh books, they were likely picture book adaptations.

So of all the books we received at our son's baby shower last year, I was most looking forward to reading the original Winnie-the-Pooh friends of ours gave us. And with such a beautiful edition to start our collection, I just couldn't resist adding The House at Pooh Corner as well as the two volumes of poetry When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. I was a little amused to see two of the used copies I bought were actually inscribed because they looked like they were barely even opened, let alone read. I look forward to the day my son asks me who Rosie or Jack & Whitney are -- I don't know kid, but they were missing out on these books, I can tell you that much.

The Stories

Now, I knew Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner were not particularly short, but I was still surprised to realize they were each close to 200 pages. Both volumes are divided into 10 chapters, each of which is its own story. They are connected, but I think they could be read on their own as well. The writing style is sort of meandering which definitely took some getting used to, but I thoroughly enjoyed these stories once I got the hang of the dialogue. I struggled a bit reading them aloud, so it's good my son is a bit too young to notice! These are true classics that I know I will reread more than once. In fact, I've already listened to the first volume on audiobook. The professional narrator did a much better job than I did for sure! The Piglet noises were a little jarring, but the audio does bring the characters and stories to life. Between reading and listening, it is so clear to me now how the cartoon versions of these characters evolved from the source material.

The Poems

As for Milne's poetry, I didn't know much at all beforehand except that When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six are part of the Pooh collection. Now having read them, I think that's actually a bit of a stretch. Pooh and Christopher Robin make a few appearances, but that's about it. The majority of the poems have nothing to do with Pooh and cover a variety of other topics. They were still enjoyable, but not quite what I was expecting. I think they will only improve with rereading because I'll know better what I'm getting myself into. Also, I know I have a tendency to rush through poetry, so I'm certain there is more to appreciate in these volumes than I absorbed the first time around.

Now that I have read these four, I'm on the fence about trying The Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. It is a companion volume written 80 years after The House at Pooh Corner by another author, but supposedly captures the style of the originals in a series of new adventures. If any Pooh aficionados have an opinion one way or the other, please let me know what you think! And of course, I'm intrigued by the Winnie the Pooh cookbook, but maybe I'll just see if the library has that one.

Classics Club Review #9

10 comments:

  1. I've never read any of these. We got When We Were Very Young as a baby shower gift, but sadly I only had one failed attempt at reading it months ago, and haven't gone back to it. Poetry is so not my thing.

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    1. I definitely liked the stories far better. And poetry often befuddles me, but every once in a while I like to give it a try. I imagine that future reading of the Milne poetry books will involve a lot more skipping around and reading of favorites.

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  2. I was looking forward to your thoughts on these Christine, and although accounting for getting used to the writing, it sounds like you had a wonderful reading experience.

    Like you, I never read any of the Pooh books whilst younger, and every time we go to the bookshop I'm always eyeing these up but never splurge to get them. I think now is definitely the time to, especially seen as my little one is currently favouring Winnie the Pooh as a film to watch so it'll be fun to explore together in word.

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    1. Oh, that would be fun! I enjoy the Pooh films as well. I won't be buying a duplicate, but I recently saw that Barnes & Noble published a leatherbound collectible edition -- it's such a shame they are harder to find in the UK!

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  3. Those are delightful books. I have not read the more recent one.

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    1. I'm still on the fence about that one!

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  4. I was always all about the stickers! Remember Lisa Frank stuff?!?! Kids still love stickers. Anyway, I have always loved Winnie the Pooh. I am not even sure I knew there were poems, but it doesn't seem I missed much. I had the cartoon versions and the original books. There is just something about them... I am glad you enjoyed them and have them for your collection! :D

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    1. Yes! I remember Lisa Frank! We used to have little sticker books and traded at school.

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  5. I loved these books as a child and had a Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear that was sorely loved. I can remember my Mom sewing him and patching him up.

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    1. We found an old Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear at my parents' house in my brother's old things from when we were kids -- I don't think it was a favorite back then because it's still in pretty good shape, but now we pull it out for my son to play with when we visit :)

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I'd love to hear what you think :)