It is always rather dangerous when the Estate of a Favorite Author decides to approve a retelling, remake, or sequel to a Favorite Series.
So I was a bit apprehensive to read Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus (Dutton Children’s Books, 2009). With the Disney movie versions of Pooh, Tigger, and friends, I had reason to be wary. (Many of the modern story lines are simply horrible!)
I needn’t have worried. Author David Benedictus and illustrator Mark Burgess treated the Winnie-the-Pooh legacy much as Mr. Milne and Mr. Shepherd would have done: it featured a rather clever rhyming (although stuffed) bear, a timid and frequently blushing Piglet, a self-centered Eeyore, and all the other characters much as I fell in love with them in Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. The Christopher Robin who joins the friends during summer break is, likewise, English through-and-through, teaching his friends cricket, wearing his blue suspenders, and otherwise bringing imagination, silly confusion, and adventure back to the Hundred Acre Wood.
Further, in this volume, it is still the imaginative and natural world of a century ago. Bicycles, a cricket bat, and a gramophone are the playthings. It hearkens directly back to the imaginative world before video games and parental concern for children’s safety brought children inside far more often than they should be. Ah! What a delight to visit such an era with a fresh slate of tales that play on words, delight my imagination, and give new life to the characters I know and love.
I was very pleased with Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, and I suspect other fans of the original Winnie-the-Pooh (as opposed to the Disney animated version) likewise will enjoy this nod to Milne and Shepherd. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is highly recommended.
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