There are certain books I will always associate with people; The Shell Seekers with my mother and granny, Du Maurier’s House On The Strand with Yvonne, my step-mother, and a book called I Am David with my father; I am yet to read it, but during my phase of devouring Babysitter Club books and Nancy Drew mysteries, he gave it to me in the hope that I would broaden my reading horizons. Almost two decades on, I think it’s safe to say his wish was fulfilled.
Winnie The Pooh, the first of a collection of stories by A. A. Milne, will forever remind me of my step-dad Anthony. Such a fan of Milne’s work and E.H Shepard’s beautiful illustrations, he was utterly aghast at Disney’s announcement that it was being made into an animation film – furious at both the American accents and the garish cartoon characters. For him, it took away the magic and the charm of the original and much-loved story books. Such romanticism was shared by my mother; my maternal granny knew Christopher Robin when they were children growing up near Nettlebed, and the books were written for him by his father A. A. Milne. Thus, there is much family loyalty to these delightful childhood tales.
It is a sentiment shared by many; such is the book’s prowess that it entered the BBC’s Big Read at number 7 – ahead of great classics including Catcher in the Rye, Great Expectations and George Elliot’s Middlemarch.
And in a time where communication is digital, more children own televisions than books, and the great outdoors is no longer deemed safe, it is quite clear exactly why this classic collection of stories has stayed dear to so many of its readers.
The protagonist was named after a teddy-bear owned by Milne’s son, the aforementioned Christopher Robin, and the stories were set in Ashdown Forest, Sussex. The tales follow the lives of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-pooh, Piglet, Eeyore the donkey, Tigger, Roo, Owl and Rabbit on their adventures in Hundred Aker Wood. With a beautifully detailed map drawn by E.H Shepard at the beginning of the book which includes such make-believe places as ‘The Pooh Trap for Heffalumps’, ‘Where The Woozle Wasn’t’ and ‘Eeyore’s Gloomy Place’ it is a wonderfully quaint childhood tale, designed to evoke the reader’s imagination and transport them to an era of nostalgia.
A delightful and enchanting book that should be read by everyone, Winnie-the-Pooh will always be a profound part of many childhoods; an accolade that is still very much true almost a century after its first publication in 1926. I dedicate this post to my wonderful Step-father Anthony who is, undoubtably, Pooh’s number one fan.