Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh

A. A. Milne
Illustrator:  Ernest H. Shepard 
For ages 5 and up
Penguin, 2005   ISBN: 978-0142404676

Christopher Robin has decided that he would like to hear a story. He would like this story to be about his bear, "Winnie-ther-Pooh." Christopher thinks that Winnie would very much like to hear a story about himself, and so off we go, to the forest, where Winnie-the-Pooh lives.

In the first story we are told, Pooh, who is very partial to food in general, and honey in particular, decides that he wants to climb a tree because there is a large bee hive at the top. Of course, where there are bees there is honey, and where there is honey, there are Poohs. At first Pooh tries climbing up the tree in the old fashioned way, but that turns out to be a painful exercise. So he heads off to find Christopher Robin, whom he hopes might have a solution to his problem. Sure enough, before long, Pooh is floating up next to the honey bee tree hanging from a large blue balloon. There still is a problem however, and the problem is that the bees, which are not unintelligent creatures, are beginning to get "suspicious."

Poor Pooh. This is only the first of several rather uncomfortable adventures that he has. In the next tale we are told, the bear, who as I have said enjoys food, gets stuck in Rabbit's doorway. Pooh blames the size of the doorway, and Rabbit blames the size of Pooh. There is nothing to be done however, for Pooh is stuck tight. All Pooh can do is to listen to a "Sustaining Book such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness" and wait to get thinner.

A. A. Milne's deliciously funny stories about this lovable bear, with their wonderful use of language,  will never lose their charm. Pooh and his friends speak a language all children understand, and they make the kinds of mistakes that are somehow delightfully familiar. Pooh's tales also offer adult readers a special reading experience. There is something about the bear's simple needs, his obvious devotion to his friends, and his delightful way of expressing himself that makes Pooh a panacea for a tired mind, an aching heart, or a weary spirit.

Throughout this book Ernest Shepard's delightful illustrations perfectly capture the personalities of Pooh, Piglet, and their friends.