The second book of the Popsugar Challenge that I have completed is Winnie the Pooh and I thought I would classify it as my entry for ‘A Book That is Guaranteed to Bring You Joy’.
The last time I read this book, or at least part of it, must have been with Holly. However, I have stronger memories of hearing Alan Bennett’s soothing voice narrating it, as it was Holly’s favourite audiobook to fall asleep to. At the time, I could almost time it when Jane Horrock’s squealy Piglet would erupt, always surprising me despite its familiarity.
As soon as I embarked on it, I was back in the Hundred Acres Wood and could envisage the animals as they trundled from one adventure to the next. One of my favourite episodes must be when Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit’s doorway because he’s eaten too much. His top half hangs outside, while his bottom half comes in handy as a towel airer for Rabbit. Sensible Christopher Robin knows what must be done – ‘We shall have to wait for you to get thin again’. To Pooh’s dismay, he must diet for a week until his body is slender enough to be pulled, rather undignifiedly, out. Anyone who has ever got stuck in a pair of jeans will sympathise with his predicament, I am sure. Ahem.
And the time when Pooh and Piglet walk in circles hunting a Woozle always elicits more than a chuckle as the two are convinced that more Woozles and possible a Wizzle are now following them, totally unaware that they’re creating the prints themselves.
Equally delightful are Pooh’s spontaneous yet still thoughtful poems. We have ‘The Anxious Pooh Song’ in which the worried animal becomes a hero through an act of bravery (saving Piglet from the floods), and ‘Sing Ho! For the Life of a Bear!’ in which Pooh teaches all of us about how to find joy in the simplest of things (for him, it’s having lots of honey in his house and on his nice clean paws). ‘Cottleston Pie’ is another favourite – a beautiful train-like rhythm running through it.
AA Milne’s interesting use of initial capital letters on words was fascinating to rediscover, having seen it frequently nowadays in children’s books and comedic writing to suggest irony or humorous emphasis:
‘As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen… and he spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.’
And of course who could not love the title ‘A Bear of Very Little Brain’? (Even though I disagree with this statement!)
When I told the children at school that it would have been AA Milne’s 134th birthday on 18 January they were amazed at the age, and intrigued about how to pronounce Milne. However, many children (particularly boys) were very grumpy about me reading from Winnie the Pooh, declaring a vehement hatred for the bear. I nearly fainted, of course. Who could not love this gentle creature?
Upon further discussion it appeared that many had been subjected to endless reruns of Disney’s version of the books, of short episodes on terrestrial television which are rather saccarine. They hadn’t read the original story, or had it read to them, so they were unfamiliar with Milne’s gently comedic style.
Interestingly, I discovered their distate was due to their age. Having just ‘graduated’ from quite simple picture books, they thought I was insulting their intelligence by showing them a ‘baby’ book. Some of them used the word ‘baby’ to describe the average reader while others said Pooh Bear was an idiot for doing things like falling into water (I restrained from pointing out that plenty of children did that and worse on a daily basis).
When I read them some of the poems, and got them joining in, they grudgingly showed interest, and when I talked to them about Pooh’s and Piglet’s quest to find a Woozle (and possibly a Wizzle) they were desperate to hear the outcome (by this time, the session had finished and they were left on a cliffhanger – we would have had time to finish had they not moaned so much about listening to the stories in the first place!).
I hope I have helped them reconsider their opinions on one of the world’s most-loved bears. I enjoyed the book so much that I have purchased the second book – The House at Pooh Corner. If you are looking for a book that will bring you joy, I can hardly recommend a better one. Even writing this makes me smile. 🙂
Have you read Winnie the Pooh? What are your thoughts?
What book would YOU choose that would be guaranteed to bring you joy?