Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Best Bear in All the World Audio

The Best Bear in All the World Audio

Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders, Brian Sibley, Paul Bright
For ages 6 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Martin Jarvis
Listening Library (Audio), 2016   ISBN: 978-0735287631

It is not every day that a bear - in this instance a bear called Winnie-the-Pooh - gets to celebrate his ninetieth birthday, so when such a momentous occasion comes around one should celebrate. Since being ninety is Very Great Thing, it is decided that this would be the perfect time to “share some more of Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures,” which is why Pooh and his friends are back with four brand new tales.

Our celebratory visit in the Hundred Acre Wood begins with an autumnal tale. Leaves are drifting to the ground, the warmth of summer is gone, and Christopher Robin is playing the part of St George in the village play. His character will have to fight a fire-breathing dragon “who has been eating damsels,” and as Christopher Robin has many lines to learn by heart he has explained that he is Not To Be Disturbed.  Pooh gets a little concerned that the dragon might want to eat his honey, and is reassured to hear that dragons are mythical or extinct animals that are not partial honey.

Pooh is feeling very relieved after the whole dragon business until Piglet points out that a dragon that is mithickle or ex-stinkt could still be a problem. After all, Christopher Robin is Not to Be Disturbed, but Pooh and Piglet are not. There is only one thing to do; they must go and consult Owl.

Pooh and Piglet tell Owl about their concerns but unfortunately the bird does not really offer up any useful answers to their questions, except to say “allowing for the usual errors and omissions, one wouldn’t expect to see a dragon again until at least a week next Tuesday.” This news is a little comforting, but the animals still don’t know what they are going to do when the dragon eventually arrives.

In Pooh’s second adventure a new animal arrives in the Forest on a snowy winter day. The animal is a bird that is black and white, it waddles around, and it has a rather alarming looking beak (or at least Piglet thinks it is alarming). The penguin is rather formal and apparently Christopher Robin thinks that he needs “Bringing Out of Himself.” Pooh and Piglet are in the process of introducing Penguin to Owl when Rabbit comes running up. Apparently Christopher Robin left a note pinned to his door that says “Gon To Boganin.” None of the animals have heard of a place called Boganin and they get quite alarmed. Christopher Robin must be found as soon as possible.

Our spring adventure begins when Eeyore sees Another Donkey down by the river and is convinced that this interloper (there may even more than one of them about) is going to eat all the thistles and leave Eeyore to starve. Eeyore generally thinks that no one cares about him, but the truth is that his friends care about him a great deal, and they set about trying to help their gloomy friend. Clearly what they need to do is to find Another Donkey and impress on him that he must share the thistles in the Forest with Eeyore.

Summer brings us a tale about a quest, which is very right and proper. Christopher Robin has been reading a book about how explorers went to Africa to seek out the Sauce of the Nile. Now Pooh has no idea what such a Sauce would look (and taste) like, but he would very much like to find out. So he and Piglet set off - even though there are concerns about Heffalumps - to find the Sauce of the river that flows through the Forest.

On October 14, 1926, the first Winne-the-Pooh book came into the world. Since then Pooh has become beloved of people all over the world. He has delighted children, and comforted adults who turn to their old friend during hard times.

This wonderful collection of four seasonal stories perfectly captures the feel of the original tales written by A.A. Milne. Each of the writers who contributed to this collection clearly has a deep affection and respect for Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, and they intuitively understand how best to honor them with stories about their lives.