Friendly with Bears
Last August I wrote that “Characters… are near immortal, continuing long after their creators have shuffled off this mortal coil.“
And now, 80 years after he first appeared on the bookshelves, and over 50 years after his creator died, Winnie-the-Pooh is returning in a brand new adventure, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood.
Hmmm… I am in two minds about this. I love Winnie-the-Pooh. The stories of Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Rabbit and all the others are part of my childhood. I moved on from the children’s stories, and explored Eastern philosophy through The Tao of Pooh, Western philosophy through Pooh and the Philosophers. I was guided through the Ancient Mysteries in Pooh and the Magicians, and versed in psychology in Pooh and the Psychologists, before returning to the simplicity of Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.
A fresh story, a chance to return to a beloved childhood location is enticing. It should be something I’m happy about.
But there have been previous attempts to extend the Pooh canon. After adapting the original stories, Disney began to invent new stories. New situations. New characters. I’m no great fan of the Disney adaptations of the original stories – I can’t stand the new material they came up with. The situations and characters are so incongruous, it as if they neither understand, nor care about, the characters.
So I await the release of this book with some trepidation. The fact that the book has the blessing of both the A A Milne and E H Shepard estates is encouraging. Although they sold their rights to Disney, the Milne family were not always happy with the cartoons that Disney came up with, so the fact that the families of the author and the illustrator are both pleased with the story does give me hope that this will feel like an undiscovered chapter of a familiar childhood friend, rather than an unwanted intrusion into an Enchanted Place.