A Boy, a Bear, a Balloon by Brittany Rubiano

Published: 3rd July 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Disney Press
Illustrator: Mike Wall
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Retelling touching scenes from the upcoming Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming Christopher Robin film, this charming picture book finds Christopher reuniting with Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and the rest of his old friends when he returns to the Hundred Acre Wood for the first time since childhood. As he returns to the life he once new, Christopher sees the world through new eyes and discovers that even as everything around us seems to change, the most important things remain constant.

I have an intense love for Winnie the Pooh so of course I was eager to read this new picture book featuring my favourite bear. Rubiano does a good job mixing the old and the new, even putting in the dedication a quote from one of the best Winnie the Pooh films: Pooh’s Grand Adventure.

My heart did a small leap of joy as I recognised many of Milne’s quotes from the original books, reworked into this story which only brought the woods back to life and reminded me how much I adore these characters. The story also casually revisits some of the original Pooh adventures, seen now through the eyes of the older Christopher Robin which reminds us how much he has changed. He visits his old friends and they fail to see the young boy they knew in this man who has entered their woods.

Rubiano doesn’t quite catch the tone of Milne’s writing, it is very close, and you can see where it’s drawing from, but at the same time I don’t think it’s meant to mimic it exactly. This is her own story that is reflecting part of the upcoming film. With that in mind it is unfair to make it live up to the previous Winnie the Pooh books. Coming at these beloved characters from the mind of an adult like Christopher Robin, but still telling the story to children (or even those who left the woods a long time ago), it has a suitable tone and one that still manages to reignite that love and affection.

The illustrations are a beautiful mixture between Shepherds and the ever familiar Disney. I loved how Wall has brought his style to the characters while still keeping them familiar. The colours are beautiful and his designs are simplistic and elegant, showing just enough detail.

There is a lot of responsibility to writing and illustrating for Winnie the Pooh (in my view anyway), but this book does a beautiful job in presenting a story for those of us who are a little but more grown up and find ourselves wandering back to the Hundred Acre Woods.

Because of the popularity and endearing nature of Winnie the Pooh there is always going to be reminders about other adaptations and in those final pages. On that final page I found my mind immediately going to a quote from the masterpiece 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:

“Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in their enchanted place on top of the forest, a little bear will always be waiting”.

*cue Amy sobbing*

You can purchase A Boy, A Bear, A Balloon via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository |

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

 Fishpond | QBD

The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Image result for house at pooh cornerPublished in 1928 this is the sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh. This second volume of stories contains ten chapters, each a story with an adventure of sorts that Christopher Robin and his toys go on. The House at Pooh Corner is important because it’s the book where Tigger is introduced. It’s hard to imagine we may have had Winnieithe-Pooh without Tigger, perhaps it would have been another toy instead if Christopher Robin’s mother had chosen differently. I used to think it was Kanga and Roo who were introduced in the second book but it was actually Tigger. Possibly because Tigger took off with such popularity and Kanga and Roo were less notable that I thought they were later introductions.

I love this book as much as the first one, the stories are beautiful and there are some wonderful important moments about friendship and kindness, and I think Eeyore is so delightful and the relationship between Pooh and Piglet really shines. The game of Pooh Sticks is also created in one of these stories, and it includes a slightly older Christopher Robin, growing up and heading off to school. This is a heartbreaking book in a way, Christopher Robin realises he is growing up and it makes some wonderfully moving monents that make you (me specifically), very teary and emotional.

I think the first book outshines this a bit, or maybe people merge them into one book, but House at Pooh Corner is a grand little book in its own right and deserves to be seen as its own book, not confused and muddled in with all things Winnie the Pooh.

Pooh Corner is mentioned in the famous Kenny Loggins song titled Return to Pooh Corner, and oh my goodness if you haven’t heard it you must. It will crush your heart and make you nostalgic and all kinds of emotional. I adore it to no end and I proper cry everytime I hear it. Not as connected to this book in terms of story but Pooh Corner is where a lot of things happen once it has been created so it deserves a mention (plus it’s a gorgeous song and I need to mention it somewhere). Both this book and the song are wonderful about growing up and being young and carefree and friendship. I’m getting all teary thinking about them both now so I’m going to stop there and resist the urge to listen to the song.

Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne

Image result for now we are sixPublished in 1927 this is the third children’s book by Milne, published after the success of Winnie the Pooh. Now We Are Six contains thirty five verses, with more E. H. Shepard illustrations to accompany them.

The poems have inspired many others; around 1930 Mimi Crawford recorded several poems with music by Harold Fraser-Simson, the title is played upon with the 2003 book Now We Are Sixty, and an anthology by Neil Gaiman called Now We Are Sick. The short “A Poem Is…” was also inspired by one of Milne’s poems entitled “Us Two”.

Illustrations of Winnie the Pooh accompany 11 of the poems, and he is a much stronger focus than he was in the earlier poetry book.

Both this book plus When We Were Very Young were popular during the 1920s and 1930s, and popularity surged again after Milne’s death. Christopher Robin even recorded some of the poems at the suggestion of his mother; this however resulted in incredible bullying for Christopher Robin at school.

Below is a full list of the poems included in this book. You can read these poems and more here.

Solitude
King John’s Christmas
Busy
Sneezles
Binker
Cherry Stones
The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak
Buttercup Days
The Charcoal-Burner
Us Two
The Old Sailor
The Engineer
Journey’s End
Furry Bear
Forgiven
The Emperor’s Rhyme
Knight-in-Armour
Come Out with Me
Down by the Pond
The Little Black Hen
The Friend
The Good Little Girl
A Thought
King Hilary and The Beggarman
Swing Song
Explained
Twice Times
The Morning Walk
Cradle Song
Waiting at The Window
Pinkle Purr
Wind on the Hill
Forgotten
In The Dark
The End

90 Years of Winnie the Pooh

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Today marks the 90th anniversary since Winnie the Pooh was first published. 90 years on and Pooh and his friends are just as big as they were when they first made their appearance and there is no sign of them slowing down.

The original stories Milne published in the 1920s are still being printed today and the same words that children and adults fell in love with are being loved all over again in a new century, a new millennium and multiple generations later. Personally, I would love to own a copy of the original edition, see the drawings from Shepard and read the story from the original book. It would awesome but I’m sure for a good copy would be a few hundred at least..

The lasting success of Winnie the Pooh is no real surprise, when it was published it was a best seller. The story of Winnie the Pooh and friends is timeless and is filled with the right balance of wisdom, absurdity, silliness, and heart.

Both the British and American editions (Methuen & Co and Dutton respectively) were published on the same day and went on to tremendous success. Critics hailed the book a masterpiece, all except Dorothy Parker who found Milne’s work pretentious.

pooh-first-edThe first edition was bound in dark green cloth with a gilt border and vignette to the front cover, also with gilt at the top edges of the pages. Originally it also had a dust cover, which is now incredibly rare. Deluxe editions were also published the same year in either blue, green, or red, and had a slip-case replacing the dust wrapper. There were also 350 limited edition copies produced that were signed by both author and illustrator.

In the years since publishing the book has been adapted and translated numerous times, it was even translated into Latin. Translator Lénárd Sándor (Alexander Lenard) from Hungary published the translation in 1958 and it was called Winnie ille Pu. Two years later it became the first foreign language book to be featured on the New York Times Best Seller List, and the only Latin book ever to be featured.

Most of the characters we know and love today were introduced in this first book. Pooh, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet and Owl are all mentioned, and one of the later chapters introduces Kanga and Roo. Interestingly Tigger is not introduced until the sequel. All the characters are toys except Owl and Rabbit, Milne called these two his “own unaided work” drawn from the natural world. This is also why they are depicted as real animals, not toys like the others.

A lot of Milne’s inspiration for Winnie the Pooh came from around him, his son, certainly the toys, but the setting is also inspired by real life. The setting of the stories is the 100 Acre Wood which Milne based on the real life Ashdown forest near Sussex. Milne bought a country home near the forest and took regular trips there with his family and stayed there during the spring and the summer. The forest inspired Milne and he used it in both of his Winnie the Pooh books, with many places being replicated as part of the fictional 100 acres.

The book is fairly short, ten chapters/adventures in total and each written in that peculiar Milne way. I have always loved Milne’s writing style, the random capitals when Things happen or Something needs doing, and the cleverness when jokes are woven in there for adults while the kids enjoy a different aspect. It is deceptively simple I think and that is what makes it charming.

One can only imagine what the 100th anniversary will bring for this little book, but with such achievement already surely it is only going to get better from here.

Misquotes and Misattribution

I’ve mentioned in previous posts over the years the inaccuracies between quotes attributed to Milne and Winnie the Pooh. For some reason Milne has become the new Mark Twain where quotes become their’s whether or not they actually are. I probably helped spread some of these wrong quotes in past posts but I try to correct them when I realise.

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Not a quote from Milne

I have a few theories on how these wrong quotes get spread around. Aside from Milne getting credit when a line is spoken in a Disney film, another theory is that people were placing quotes over Winnie the Pooh pictures and that started it, or maybe they think things sound like a Milne quote and they aren’t.

Websites like MyTownTutors that have ‘Great A. A. Milne Quotes‘ are great and all but the fact that barley any of those quotes are actually from Milne is only perpetuating these misquotes. Thankfully people on the internet have done some of the work for me so I don’t need to spend a week checking them all. Of the 59 listed on the MyTownTutors website only 14 were from ANY of the four Milne books. Another dozen or so were paraphrased or variations on the real quote. The rest weren’t Disney or Milne. One I know to be false is “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Not Milne or Disney but a 1975 movie..

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Not Milne, actually from Disney’s Pooh’s Grand Adventure

This Buzzfeed quiz tests your knowledge of Pooh against other great quotes. The only problem is, none of those attributed to Pooh are actually from Milne. There is one that comes close, paraphrased incredibly but as close as the rest get. The popular quote “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day” is simplified a bit from the House at Pooh Corner quote “By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

There was even a Quotation Audit done to Winnie the Pooh’s Goodreads page that assessed what was correct attribution and what wasn’t. The result was that 14 quotes (just over one fifth of all those listed) that were not from any Milne publication nor Disney movie. Then the rest were from House at Pooh Corner, a different book entirely, but at least it was a Milne work.

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Not a Milne or Disney

There is a list of Essential and Authentic Milne Quotes that are just as beautiful and funny as the incorrect ones. I’m not sure if there is a way to stop the spread of misattribution, but it’s not for lack of trying. There are a few sites dedicated to clearing up this confusion. I’ve mentioned Pooh Misquoted in the past, and the DailyKos page is another good one that tries to weed out the true from the not. They are few and far between but a great source to make clear Milne didn’t write every single Pooh quote, nor as it turns out, has Disney.

As the wise Abraham Lincoln once said:

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