January 18 is A.A. Milne’s birthday. I think that people forget before Disney, Winnie-the-Pooh was a story written by a father to his son: a real life Christopher Robin.
Of course, I love what Disney has done with Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. They have been part of my life since I slept in my Pooh nursery as a baby. But the original tales and poems are some of my favorite pieces of children’s literature.
“Its snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening a little. “We haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
–My favorite gloomy optimist, Eeyore, in A House at Pooh Corner
The Hundred Acre Wood exists outside of the pages of the books. Ashdown Forest, in East Sussex, England, was the inspiration to Pooh’s home and guests can visit today. They can see the bridge where Pooh and his friends play Pooh Sticks, visit the Enchanted Place, Eeyore’s Gloomy Place and Roo’s Sandy Pit. If I ever get up the courage to fly internationally, I will immediately find my way to this place and absolutely get lost in it.
The official Disney fan club, D23, has a Winnie the Pooh exhibit currently touring Japan. I’m hoping it will make it to the United States, because it looks like a great exhibit.
You can also view the original stuffed version of Pooh and his pals at The New York Public Library.
In 2009, 80 years after Christopher Robin left Pooh in the Enchanted Place, the Trustees of the Pooh Property (what a cool job to have!) approved a sequel to A.A. Milne’s tales. David Benedictus does an excellent job of capturing Milne’s voice in Return to the Hundred Acre Wood.
In honor of Winnie-the-Pooh Day this year, I will be snuggling up with my son and revisiting the Hundred Acre Wood through his eyes. JC loves the Pooh stories, and has already heard the Disney versions enough that he can recite them back to me. It’s one of the reasons I chose to use Milne’s original stories as his first chapter book. I haven’t read them in years, but as I am reading them to JC the little nuances are coming back to me, making me laugh and get teary-eyed.
That’s the real beauty of Milne’s tales–they are timeless, and are always waiting for us right where we left them.
“But, of course, it isn’t really goodbye, because the Forest will always be there…and anybody who is friendly with bears can find it.”
–From the “Contradiction” at The House at Pooh Corner