Ok, so Winnie-The-Pooh is not quite a sacred text in the way the bible is, but it would come a very close second for many of us. Therefore, just like the bible, we can cope when it is used as the basis for teaching us principles of life (Pooh and the Philosophers by John Tyerman Williams, Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff or Winnie-The-Pooh on Success by Roger E. Allen and Stephen D. Allen). Also we are quite happy when study aids are provided like The Pooh Dictionary by A.R. Melrose. We might also have differences of opinion about the validity of certain translations (like the Disney version). Yet we do not expect the cannon to be changed or added to. Therefore however good it might be Return to Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus is sacrilege. That was certainly my first thought when I read though the Guardian Pass Notes this morning and was alerted to the new text.
Having looked through chapter one on the Penguin site I have to say that it does look like a well written book with some excellent illustrations, (I am really impressed with Mark Burgess work). However, as I say this cannot and must not become viewed as a cannonical work. The only true texts are those which came from the pen of A.A. Milne and were illustrated by E.H. Shepard.
That said I guess Benedictus is just doing to a higher standard what so many of us have done with our children down the years, returning to the wood with Pooh and his friends, making up new stories. I remember when Third Party was young we would sit in bed with our, (I can’t pretend they all belonged to her), collection of soft toy versions of the characters using the Winnie-The-Pooh quilt set she had as hundred acre wood and enact new tales. The most frequent ones I would make up for Third Party would involve Pooh and his friends saving Hundred Acre Wood from developers and particularly the new Sainsbury’s they wanted to build on there. As such Third Party was subjected to Pooh and the Honey Pots retold with the addition of lock ons and Swampy style antics. However, she was also taught to respect and love the original texts as a whole.
If this post has sounded a little negative about a book I shall undoubtably buy or request on my Christmas list don’t worry….I follow in the prophetic tradition started by Eeyore. As such I end on a negative from Eeyore’s Little Book of Gloom:
‘ “There is an invitation for you.”…
“Ah!” said Eeyore. “A mistake, no doubt, but still, I shall come.
Only don’t blame me if it rains………” ‘