Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Bear of Very Little Brain


 
 
“When we asked Pooh what the opposite of an Introduction was, he said "The what of a what?" which didn't help us as much as we had hoped, but luckily Owl kept his head and told us that the Opposite of an Introduction, my dear Pooh, was a Contradiction; and, as he is very good at long words, I am sure that that's what it is.”

While I was on leave of absence, I was sick with a cold. It gave me ample excuse to read Oliver Twist. But that wasn't the only thing I read; along with that we listened to great amounts of Winnie-the-Pooh every night. So today, since I've always planned to review the tales of my favorite bear, I'm going to write up a review of him.

This is not Disney's cartoonish Pooh. This is the essentially British A.A. Milne Pooh. There is a great difference between the two, fellow bibliophiles, and if you've never read the originals, then I beg you to go out and look them up as speedily as you can. They are very much worth your attention.

All five adults in our family are enchanted with him, and that's simply the best recommendation I can give.

The Book
"What day is it?" asked Winnie the Pooh.
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.
 
In the enchanted land of Hundred Acre Wood, a little boy's stuffed animals come alive. Pooh, of course, shines as the warm-hearted bear of very little brain with a talent for poetry. His friend Piglet, (whose father had two names, Trespassers Will, in case he lost one by mistake) proves a valiant comrade, along with Rabbit, whose executive abilities keep everyone in line. Owl, 'wise though he was in many ways, able to read and write and spell his own name WOL, yet somehow went all to pieces over delicate words like MEASLES and BUTTEREDTOAST.' helps out on occasions when writing or Explanations are necessary. Other beloved friends are Tigger with his 'strengthening medicine' (which Piglet thinks is entirely unnecessary for him) and Kanga with her beloved little Roo. All their adventures are every day ones with happy endings--building a home for Eeyore, trying to unbounce Tigger, making friends with Kanga when she comes to the forest, and hunting for dangerous beats like Woozles and Heffalumps. But each plot, though whimsical and entirely make-believe, has enough of the real stuff of life in the character's conversations and reactions to entertain a host of readers ever since the books were first published.
 
 
My Thoughts
     "And that's the whole poem," he said.  "Do you like it, Piglet?"
     "All except the shillings," said Piglet.  "I don't think they ought to be there."
     "They wanted to come in after the pounds," explained Pooh, "so I let
     them.  It is the best way to write poetry, letting things come."
                     -- Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner
 
The beauty of these stories is their simplicity. A.A Milne can spin a whole tale about Eeyore's desire for a birthday cake with pink sugar, and Piglet's attempts to bring him a balloon, and hold adult audiences enthralled for fifteen to twenty minutes. They contain purity. And friendship. And imagination. A childlike faith in one's friends and acquaintances, the belief that all wrongs can be righted, a world of animals who winsomely portray the emotions we all go through--excitement, optimism, pessimism, bossiness and worrying. But don't mistake the simplicity for a lack of artistry. On the contrary, sometimes it takes the most skill to weave straightforward themes, and the man who wrote Pooh is a highly skilled author.
 
Pooh has forever changed us. Phrases like 'it's just a biscuit cough' are ones we use quite often, and multiple quotes of his are firmly fixed parts of our vocabulary.  The British wit is classic. The childlike perspective of the world is timeless, perhaps even more engaging to adults than children. I can't wait to introduce future children of my own to these stories; and they're an essential item on the bookshelf for any bibliophile.
 

The Ultimate Experience
 
 
"But it isn't easy,' said Pooh. 'Because Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you."

If you really want the Ultimate Pooh Experience--

and you do--

then get the audios. Off iTunes they're around $10 apiece. And read by Peter Dennis, you can listen to the ultimate, living, breathing Winnie-the-Pooh experience. He enters so deeply into the story as he reads that he practically brings the characters to life right off the page. It's a joy to hear. The interesting thing about Peter Dennis is that the real Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne's son, was delighted with his performance and said "If you want to meet the real Pooh, the bear I knew, the bear my father wrote about, listen to Peter". On the other hand, he described the official Disney moves as 'an interpretation so far from the original as to be unrecognizable'.
 
Check out samples of the audios at the official Pooh website, Pooh Corner.
 
"Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning, which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

The best way I can describe Winnie-the-Pooh is literary chicken soup. If you feel at all jaded or disillusioned with the world or with yourself, this bear of Very Little Brain, who is such a good friend to all his animal acquaintances, simple-hearted, and a slow thinker, will restore your faith in mankind.

Along with that, he'll give you an abundance of quotes to work into everyday conversation. We are indebted to him, and have a steadfast love and admiration for this bear of Very Little Brain. We hope you enjoy him just as much as we did.  

“Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.”
A.A. Milne, Now We Are Six    

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile 

8 comments:

  1. So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
    There's always Pooh and Me.
    "What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
    "If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
    It isn't much fun for One, but Two,
    Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. "That's how it is," says Pooh.


    Awww...I loved this post! Pooh is one of my favorite fictional characters and it's been fun to spend time with him again. :) He's such a sweet Bear and Piglet is a good side-kick for him. (O.o I should have thought of him on your side-kicks post! :O ) My personal favorite is The House at Pooh Corner. That's when Tigger gets introduced and he adds a certain bounce to everything. :)
    Loved your review! :D
    Love,
    Sister

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    1. Awww, I love that verse. :D The whole poem is so warm and fuzzy it's almost impossible to bear it. ;)

      Piglet is an excellent sidekick. I actually wrote down him and Pooh for another themed "Best of" post that I might do in future.

      I love The House at Pooh Corner; that's my favorite book, too. :)

      Love,
      Sister

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  2. I grew up on the Disney Pooh (ha, ha) which is really cute and has it's good moments as well--but I never really could appreciate A.A. Milne until Junior B checked out the books on cassette from the library. They opened up a whole new world of delight for me as I listened to them for the first time. Now I can appreciate the original books much better than I could before. Thanks for this fun review! :)

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    1. I'm so glad she found those audio recordings. :) It's interesting that even though Disney took a different slant on Pooh, they still stayed faithful pretty well to the colorings/patterns of the animals in E.H. Shepard's drawings.

      Some of the Pooh movies were terrifying to me when I was a Very Small Person. :D I don't think I would be quite so frightened now...

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  3. Somehow I missed out on this series growing up...but, yet, I've loved every quote that I've seen or heard over the past few years. I will have to check it out someday. :)

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    Replies
    1. Oh! You must read them! Even the most non-talking-animal non-fiction lovers in our family appreciate Pooh, and I think you would really like him. :D He's so funny and heart-warming.

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  4. I love these stories! They are very creative and somewhat cute. I had noticed once while reading these stories, that Pooh, even though he is a bear of very little brain, is good at making up hums that rhyme.
    Good Post! ~The Book Reviewer (A.J.H.)

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    1. He is, isn't he! It's like he said to Rabbit-- "It isn't brain, but it comes to me sometimes." :)

      One of our favorite Pooh songs is "The spring is really springing" in The House at Pooh Corner. We hum it quite often when we're looking forward to spring, because Peter Dennis set all the songs to a kind of hum/melody when he read the stories. :)

      Thanks for commenting!

      ~Schuyler

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