When the world without gets dark and stormy, when illness strikes, or when I am just worn down by life, I turn to a number of books for solace and comfort. One of the books I turn to is today's Book of Hope title. It may seem strange that I would consider Winnie the Pooh to be a book of hope, but I think it is just that. The Winnie the Pooh stories remind us of the simple joys, the little adventures, the funny situations, that make life rich and wonderful. Feeling rich in stories that are packed with humor and sweet affection most certainly gives the spirit a lift.
Winnie the Pooh
A. A. Milne
Illustrator: Ernest H. Shepard
For ages 5 and up
Penguin, 2005, 978-0142404676
Lets us hear a story. Christopher Robin has decided that the story he would like to hear should be one 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 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 they understand too. At the same time, there can be no doubt that Pooh's tales delight adults as well. 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.
Ernest Shepard's delightful illustrations perfectly capture the personalities of Pooh, Piglet, and their friends.