Winnie the Pooh and the Royal Birthday


30295770The 90th anniversary of Winnie the Pooh also coincides with the Queen’s 90th birthday. In celebration there has been a new story created that sees the two meet for the first time. Jane Riordan has written a story in the style of Milne, that sees the gang from the 100 Acre Woods head to London for the first time. Mark Burgess has illustrated the story, replicating Shepard’s style to also keep the Pooh style as true as possible.

The Queen already has a connection the Pooh Bear as it is said she loved the stories as a child, and A. A. Milne dedicated his collection of poems, Teddy Bear And The Other Songs From When We Were Very Young, to her in 1926.

The premise of this new story is that Pooh finds out it’s the Queen’s 90th birthday and wishes to give her a gift. So Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Christopher Robin head off towards London to find the Queen at Buckingham Palace to present their gift personally. It is quite a sweet story, I was curious and thought it would just be a silly story but I was pleasantly surprised by the end. My full review is here, but I will say I quite liked it. You can see that Riordan has tried her best to keep it in the Milne style, being a special edition story a few things can be forgiven, but to her credit she has done a great job replicating the odd style Milne had of making things Things and nothings into Somethings.

There is a pdf available of the book if you would like to read it, or you can watch the video of it being narrated. It’s certainly a charming story that grows on you the further you read. I was quite surprised by the time I finished, I even got a little teary.


The Best Bear in All the World

pooh22016 marks the 90th year since the first Winnie the Pooh publication and there is a great deal more to celebrate than just the original Milne stories. A new set of stories, penned by four different authors, is being published to mark the occasion.

The book, entitled The Best Bear in All the World (which is what Christopher Robin calls Pooh Bear), is due to be published by Egmont Publishing on Oct 6th and looks quite good. I have ordered my copy and I am (im)patiently waiting for my delivery, but until such time I am a little excited about this. I’m always a little unsure about new stories of Pooh, but unlike the movies or TV shows that change things around I feel the authorised books stay as true as they can to Milne’s original pieces and illustrator Mark Burgess’ drawings are styled very much like Shepard’s originals.

In this new addition, the focus in on the four seasons, with a tale to match each one by the authors: Paul Bright, Kate Saunders, Jeanne Willis and Brian Sibley. What makes this extra special is that in one of these tales a new character is being introduced to the 100 Acre Woods. Sibley has created a new character Penguin based on a photo he saw of Christopher Robin with a toy penguin. This penguin was also bought at Harrods like all of the toys and Sibley has brought his story to life in his winter tale.

There is a thought from the archivists at Harrods that the penguin in question was  possibly Squeak, one of the many popular penguin toys of the early 20th century and based off of the popular cartoon strip Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred.

For those with any concerns over a penguin being in the 100 Acre Wood I think Sibley sums it up well when he said, “The thought of Pooh encountering a penguin seemed no more outlandish than his meeting a kangaroo and a tiger in a Sussex wood, so I started thinking about what might have happened if, on a rather snowy day, Penguin had found his way to Pooh Corner.” Not to mention the fact that since Christopher Robin had the toy, like he did with the others, then this is a great way to bring in a new character.

No doubt when my copy arrives I will be posting pictures of its prettiness. Just seeing a few of Burgess’ illustrations is making me all warm inside. There is also another special Pooh story that was created specifically for the 90th anniversary, this one coincides with the Queen’s 90th birthday but I will have more on that tomorrow.

The Origins of Pooh

Today it is hard not to know about the little yellow bear and his friends in the 100 Acre Woods, and with so many decades of media, stories, and merchandise the bear of very little brain has crossed over generations and has been loved by millions of children.

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E. H. Shepard’s design

The image of Pooh that Disney has produced has been transformed from Milne’s original creation; certainly the look of Pooh and his friends have changed from E. H. Shepard’s gorgeous illustrations. His transformation is not new though as there were a few changes even back in the beginning before we got the bear we know today.

The character of Winnie the Pooh didn’t actually make his debut in the 1926 book Winnie the Pooh. Before publishing the book Milne had been publishing stories and poems in a variety of magazines such as Punch, Vanity Fair, and St Nicholas Magazine. Not yet named, the bear makes an appearance in a poem entitled ‘Teddy Bear’ which was published in Punch in February 1924. The first time the name Pooh appears is in a story published in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve in 1925 under the title “The Wrong Sort Of Bees”. This story is actually reprinted as the first story of the book collection.

The bear itself was purchased in 1921 by Christopher Robin’s mother, Daphne, from Harrods department store in London. Originally called Edward Bear the name Winnie the Pooh has a two part origin, ‘Winnie’ Christopher Robin got from a black bear he loved at London zoo, and the ‘Pooh’ part was named after a swan. There is an ongoing fact saying this is referenced in Milne’s poem ‘The Mirror’ but this poem, the only one that mentions a swan, doesn’t mention Pooh at all. It is only in the introduction that Milne mentions that Christopher Robin called the swan mentioned in the poem, Pooh.

Slesinger’s design on a 1930s board game

With a name change in his past, Pooh also undertook a few design changes. From Shepard’s original drawings the now well-known Pooh design was adapted by Disney from the design created by Stephen Slesinger which he created in the 1930s. Slesinger acquired the US and Canadian rights to Winnie the Pooh in the 1930s from Milne and was responsible for the commercialisation of Pooh for more than 30 years. When Disney was granted the rights to certain aspects of Pooh in the 1960s the design was adopted as well.

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Disney’s well known design

The many beginnings of Milne’s work make a good argument for the true first appearance of Pooh but as it stands 1926 and the publication of Winnie the Pooh is the recognised anniversary. At 90 years old it doesn’t matter exactly where Pooh Bear came into the world, he has cemented himself in it now that there’s no chance of him disappearing any time soon.


A Celebration of a Silly Old Bear

pooh_shepardWinnie the Pooh is a story known by adults and kids alike and loved for generations. This October marks the 90th anniversary since A. A. Milne published his story and it’s an amazing journey that the little bear has gone through over the years. Winnie the Pooh was first introduced to the world back in 1926 through numerous short adventures that Milne told in the book entitled Winnie the Pooh. Following Pooh’s adventures in the mythical 100 Acre Woods more characters are introduced and the little band of friends we know today are revealed.

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh, I loved the movies, I loved the TV show, I loved the stories and the characters and I loved anything that had Winnie the Pooh on it. As I’ve gotten older of course I have scaled back my love a little, I don’t need as much “stuff” and my appreciation for the original stories has grown exponentially. Because of this I of course couldn’t ignore the 90th anniversary and like His Dark Materials last year, I am dedicating this month to all things Winnie the Pooh. Over the month I will be sharing reviews, fun facts, a little history about the origin of Winnie the Pooh and a few other fun bits that I am looking forward to sharing.

I am so glad October has finally arrived; I have been looking forward to this month for ages, ever since I thought of the idea months ago. Looking around the internet I know I am not the only one celebrating which is great to see, and with the Queen also celebrating her 90th birthday there are some great crossovers (more on that later). In addition to the original story, I am also going to look at the sequel, House at Pooh Corner and the poem collection Now We Are Six. I know it isn’t their anniversaries but I think one cannot discuss Winnie the Pooh without discussing ALL of Winnie the Pooh.

I’m sure I will learn something I didn’t previously know, and I know already I am going to have a lot of fun exploring the history and world of Pooh and friends. By the end of the month my little celebration will hopefully be a nice commemoration showing my appreciation and love for Milne and his stories, and of course the bear himself! I’m also hoping the followers I retained after flooding everyone with His Dark Materials last year will not now flee with an oncoming flood of Winnie the Pooh. But of course, that would never happen because everyone loves that delightful bear of very little brain. How could you not?

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