Kids Corner: Winnie-the-Pooh Books Inspired by Milne and Shepard

Whenever I see a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh in a store, on a shelf, anywhere, really, I pick it up and hold it. I flip the pages. I pause over the pictures (whether they are in color or not). I wish I could own it.

But why? I already own a lovely hardcover in color (along with Pooh Corner) and a volume of The Complete Tales and Poems of Pooh. If I want to read it, I can just go home and read it!

Yet, there is something about this Bear of Very Little Brain that makes me want to own him.

My recent poetic attempt may illustrate how much I enjoyed my recent reread of these classics. So I searched out other Pooh books from the library this month.

I was disappointed to find that the children’s section had mostly Disney-inspired stories about Winnie-the-Pooh. Now, I love the Disney movie well enough, but in a book? I don’t want to learn how Winnie-the-Pooh went to school or the doctor. Winnie-the-Pooh should primarily be about the imaginary world of the Hundred Acre Wood as created by A.A. Milne and Ernest Shepard. (I also refuse to watch the new Disney Pooh movies. That is not true Pooh.)

I was pleased to find, upon further exploration, some Shepard-illustrated Milne stories in smaller format.

The Pooh Story Book has three chapters from the novels, but it’s in a nice-sized story book. It is, essentially, the chapters by Milne and the illustrations by Shepard excerpted from the books and put into a different format. I like this very much, and it’s definitely less bulky and intimidating than the entire book. The print is large, so I imagine older children wouldn’t mind it. My two-year-old loved flipping through it.

A few weeks ago I also found a tiny little board book with Milne’s words slightly rephrased (and obviously abridged) and Shepard’s drawings. (Great news! I just found this set online! It’s used of course, but I’m just happy to find it. Yeay! Don’t buy all the sets, I want one!) I loved the board book format, and so did my son.

And then I found a number of other Pooh-inspired books featuring the true Pooh of Milne and Shepard.

The Pooh Sketchbook contains the preliminary sketches by Ernest H. Shepard. Some of these sketches are compared to the final illustrations, and all of them are rather delightful. There are few words in this book, and my son enjoyed flipping through it too: “Pooh!” he said, over and over. It’s nice to see Pooh grow up from beginning bear to mature Pooh.

The Pooh Bedside Reader by A.R. Melrose is a bit different (and  it seems to be out of print, as I can’t find it on the Amazon site). The complete subtitle is “In Which the Beloved Creations of A.A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard, Through Smackerels of Verse, Amusing Excerpts, Anecdotes, Memoirs, Reviews, and Autobiographies, Are Affectionately Celebrated by A.R. Melrose.” And that is what it is. Chapter by chapter, Melrose reviews the characters of the Hundred Acre Wood, looking at the “real” ones (such as the boy Christopher Robin), finding excerpts from the book to illustrate the personality traits, and otherwise reminiscing about the beloved characters. It’s not dense at all, and at less than 160 pages, I’d say 50 were complete chapters excerpted from the novels (I skimmed some of those since I’d just reread the books). There are even excerpts from The New Yorker‘s very disparaging review of Milne’s books. Rather amusing, if you ask me.

The Pooh Bedside Reader is about “everyone being together in the Forest. And us coming to visit.”  (page 4). And that is what I felt I was doing. After each chapter, I’d realize that that character is my favorite: “Oh, that’s right! Pooh is my favorite!” or “Christopher Robin is certainly my favorite” or “Poor Eeyore! I love him so much that he must be my favorite.” I couldn’t decide, and I think that was the joy of it. I now want to go back and reread all of Milne’s novels (except I won’t because I just did). I want to sit and ponder the joy of childhood.

One quote stood out to me, and that was Christopher Robin Milne’s thoughts on his stuffed animals, the  original inspiration for the stories. Although they are sitting in the New York Public Library, he doesn’t (or didn’t) think about them or miss them, much to the surprise of many people.

My toys were and are to me no more than yours were and are to you. I do not love them more because they are known to children in Australia or Japan. Fame has nothing to do with love.

I wouldn’t like a glass case that said: “Here is fame”; and I don’t need a glass case to remind me: “Here was love.” (page 156)

I’ve found a number of other books featuring Milne’s words and/or Shepard’s illustrations. Maybe someday I’ll get to them all: never fear! It is not all Disney out there!

A note: I came across the Spanish translation! How fun! Now you all know what I want for Christmas. (I’m so excited I don’t think I can wait that long. Maybe next month I’ll buy a book for myself?)

What book(s) are you always tempted to buy, for no good reason and even if you already own one or two copies of it?

Are you true to the True Pooh? Or have you even ever met him?

Did you have a “real” animal/doll friend when you were a child?

A Note

Although children’s literature is not the main focus of Rebecca Reads, I am considering talking about it more frequently. I check out between 6 and 10 children’s picture books each week: some are read over and over with my son, and others are read once by me and my son is never tempted to open it. Nonetheless, I may start sharing what my son is reading and/or what children’s books I’ve picked up. If that is a subject that does not interest you, I understand; don’t feel bad passing it by.

The Well-Read Child posts a Thursday meme called “What are my children reading?” If you’re interested in participating, go check it out.

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Oh I love Pooh! The real Pooh not the Disney Pooh. I’ve been known to call my husband Tigger and when he is excessively exuberant tell him that I am a very small animal and please to not bounce me. We used to read the Pooh stories to each other when we were first married and our favorite lines to this day are “I wasn’t going to eat it, I was just going to taste it!” Pooh’s lament to Rabbit over a full honey pot.

  2. I’ve met Pooh, but only briefly – I read the first book for the first time last year. I absolutely LOVED it, much more than I expected, and I really need to get myself a complete Pooh.

    I’m always tempted to get multiple copies of my favourite books, especially ones by Neil Gaiman. Most of the time I fight the urge, though, as I really can’t afford to go there 😛

  3. I feel the same about Classic Pooh, so wonderful. I don’t like Disney Pooh at all, too.

    I have copies of all and also the poetry books. They’re so precious.

    To Claire (P.R.): I’ve read The Pooh Perplex! I actually had a copy before. So fun!

    Also, there’s Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet.

  4. What you described on the first paragraph happens to me too. I also have countless Pooh soft toys around and watched all the Disney movies version. What I haven’t done is reading the original stories. Oops..

    I really loved the quote from Christopher Robin Milne above. Very powerful.

  5. I love Pooh. In High School, I bought a big stuffed Eeyore (about 2 foot long), and I carried it everywehre – band trips, on the plane in my carryone with his head sticking out, etc, etc. My senior art project, in fact, was designing an album cover with Eeyore on it dressed as a coffee-shop beatnik – black turtleneck, beret, dark round glasses. I love the old art, it really was so… I don’t know, whimsical I guess, in away that the other isn’t (it doesn’t help that it’s been so branded that I can’t look at disneypooh without thinking of breakfast cereal…)

  6. Stefanie, oh that is great! I need to start putting Winnie-the-Pooh into everyday speech!

    claire, I haven’t seen that one yet. These really were my first two books other than the originals. Thanks for sharing.

    Nymeth, Maybe I should clarify that I didn’t read any of the True Pooh either until 3 years ago when I was expecting my son! But I’ve read the two novels 3 times since then.

    I rarely buy books too. The Complete Pooh was gifted to me and then the two hardcovers of the novels were my used-but-nice gifts to my son. Somehow I still want more copies, though….I just wish. Haven’t read Gaiman yet, but I have Graveyard Book waiting!!

    claire, I don’t mind the first Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh. And my son LOVES it. But yes, in general, Disney (esp. the new movies) disappoints me.

    I haven’t read the “philosophy” books. (Have you read them? Are they overly “philosophical?”)

    Mee, oh, well the books are different from Disney! As I said, I’m true to the True Pooh! (except for the first movie). I did find CR Milne’s thoughts interesting throughout this book.

    Jason Gignac, yes, defintely a “brand,” especially the other little “Pooh goes to the Doctor” books. I just can’t stand to look at them. My son loves them, of course, but I refuse to even check them out from the library! That Eeyore sounds funny!

  7. I love Winnie the Pooh. The original Winnie that inspired AA Milne was named for my hometown of Winnipeg. I love the stories and everytime I read the one when Christopher Robin goes off to school and Pooh asks if he would remember him I cry.
    I prefer the Classic Pooh myself, but I’m ok with the original Disney Pooh; the one on television now, however is sacrilege (changing Christopher Robin to a girl? No)
    I heard that there is actually going to be a new Winnie the Pooh book out in early October that is not Disney-esque; it will be true to AA Milne, supposedly. I’m eager to check that out if it is true.

  8. Suzanne, Me too! I cried as I read it to my son too! I’m ok with original Disney too but I also was a bit disgusted by the girl-with-a-dog taking the place of Christopher Robin.

    I heard about the “sequel” book and I’m a bit wary. If you do read it, I’ll be curious how it turns out!!

  9. I like Winnie the Pooh, but my absolute favorite is Eeyore. You can’t help but want to hug him and tell him it’s going to be alright. As a mom to 7 kids, I’ve watched many children’s programming and read many children’s books. However, Winnie the Pooh and friends is on the top of my list.

    🙂

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