Winnie the Pooh and Penguin, Too!

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I occasionally allow Winnie The Pooh references into my standard vocabulary at work, and am far-too-often left aghast at how many people have no idea what I’m talking about. It turns out that even here in the UK, not everybody has absorbed every single glorious written word of it into their very souls. And I do mean written word, not animated scene. (Disney’s animated version has charm, but nowhere near as much as Sheppards illustrations, and far, far less than the text upon which it was all based.) Like the Jeeves novels - the other great and sadly under-read work of gentle English perfection from these isles - the true wonder of the Winnie The Pooh stories lies not just in the brilliant characters and their phrases, but how they and their world are described with such apparently simple delight.

For this reason, I do recommend that anyone who hasn’t heard them before hunt down Alan Bennett’s recordings of the novels, which must have been done back in the 1970s or 80s. You can’t read the words and look at the pictures when you’re driving with your family, but those recordings are a Good Way of getting those words into your head, and guarantee you will all arrive smiling.


Can I recommend this post a bazillion times?

(And yes, I had already bought two copies of this as presents this year - one for my 70-yr old dad, and the other for my 7-yr old nephew.)


I think A A Milne did know what he had achieved.

Dorothy Parker didn’t get it at all and after reading Now We Are Six, the follow on to Pooh, she reported that she “fwowed up”. Which showed she had had a sidecar too many because Milne never uses baby talk. Quite the reverse.
Both Pooh and NWAS are gently derisive at pompousness and authority figures, in a good way.


“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”

Pooh thought for a little. “How old shall I be then?”



the original Winnie the Pooh are the work of an inspired genius. And the Sheppard drawings are wonderful. I have never seen a spin-off/sequel which did not make me sad for abusing the spirit of the original. (Some of the early disney versions are somewhat charming. But in the disney versions they turned pooh into a dumb bear instead of a humble/simple bear which is completely and utterly missing the point. )

I don’t really understand why you would want to write another sequel. I do understand why the estate and the publishers would want that though. I won’t buy this book. In the best case it will make me not-sad, which is not a good reason to buy a book :slight_smile:


A couple of years ago I went back and re-read the original stories and was amazed and delighted to find some subtle but profound lessons in them. In her book Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children’s Literature Alison Lurie touches on the undercurrents of Pooh but she doesn’t get nearly deep enough. Pooh is a major risk-taker, Owl, supposedly wise, isn’t all that smart, Rabbit kidnaps Roo because he thinks there’s something suspicious about these newcomers–although it ends up really just being a ruse to get to know Kanga better–and when Eeyore loses his house and is left freezing in the snow he shrugs it off and says “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

I love the idea of introducing a new character too since that echoes something I think is at the heart of the original stories: a diverse group of characters all living together.


Under-read? Perhaps in the US, I don’t know, but certainly not elsewhere in the English-speaking world. Wooster and Jeeves have been in print for over 100 years and I doubt that will end any time soon. However, they increasingly depend on a world that hasn’t existed for a very long time.

Part of the secret is that although Wooster is not nearly as clever as Jeeves, he is far more sensible - and intelligent - than almost everybody else he knows. Aunt Dahlia is always getting into scrapes through her addiction to gambling, Aunt Agatha is simply obnoxious, Gussie Fink-Nottle suffers from nominative determinism, Spode is a would-be Hitler. Wodehouse knew, better than Conan Doyle, not to bring the series to a conclusion, but it always looked likely to end with Bertie married to an American woman (Wodehouse liked them for their lack of stuffiness and common sense) and living in the country with Jeeves as butler. A key factor is that Jeeves likes Bertie; he doesn’t exploit him or cheat him and he works so as to make Bertie come out well or get what he wants.


After watching one of the more recent Disney Pooh movies, a friend of mine commented that they’d made the Hundred Acre Wood into a bunch of very stupid grumpy old men trying to cater to a honey-addicted mentally deficient bear while Kanga and Roo try to keep things together.

The one really charming new character Disney added to the Pooh pantheon was Lumpy, the young Heffalump, who gave Roo a chance to have his own storylines outside of the forest of confused old men.


I, errr… appear to have some dust in my eye or something.


Gently derisive? NWA? Have you never listened to Straight Outta Compton?



I think you’re right to point out that Wodehouse is certainly given the high critical acclaim he deserves, and many people have indeed read his beautiful novels. However, a quick survey in the office reveals that of ten people - all with at least one university degree and most of them with more - I’m the only one who’s read Wodehouse. A small sample, yes, but - to my mind - that’s definitely not enough!

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Since I first discovered it here on BB, it may already be familiar to some of you, but I’ll take any opportunity to heartily recommend the very very fantastic tale of an animatronic Pooh bear, Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk by Ken Scholes.

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What makes Wodehouse so amazing is that trick he has of making it sound as though he’d just sat down at his desk and dashed it off in five minutes, when, of course, he laboured for hours to make it sound like that whilst making his farce structures solid as a rock. (Personally, I’m a Blandings man, although if pressed, I would tell everyone to read Laughing Gas which is a standalone gem.)

But yes, if Bertie was as much of an ass as others (with the general exception, as you note, of Jeeves) think, then the books wouldn’t have made it past a couple of volumes.


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