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BOOK SUMMARY

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Publisher:
Penguin Putnam
Number of pages
: 161

Summary:

The Pooh books are a father’s gift to his son, Christopher Robin. Written for a child, they reflect the concerns, the games, and the guidance of an ongoing early childhood. Though he was a professional writer, the elder Mr. Milne was not, until he began writing about Pooh, a children’s author.

In the course of two multi-chapter books, Christopher Robin and his boy animals, have one adventure after another —everything from filching honey from the angry bees to welcoming Tigger (a very bouncy animal), consoling Eeyore (the gloomy donkey), enduring a flood, and seeking out the South Pole. Everything is related in extremely childish (but by no means "cutesy" terms), including bursts of poetry, rudimentary logic, and a great deal of remarkably in-depth character study. Each animal has a district personality: impulsive Tigger, neurotic Eeyore, no-nonsense Kanga, self-important Rabbit and Owl, humble Piglet, and, of course, direct and simple Pooh. The animals might be any group of typical siblings or playmates and teach, through their adventures, many real life lessons.

Strong points:

  • The story reflects a good understanding of the way children think and play.
  • Young children are gently guided into a rich world of child-sized experiences, observing cause and effect and non-magical solutions to problems which are play versions of situations they will encounter in real life.
  • Desirable character traits are encouraged and undesirable ones are shown as silly.
  • The book encourages active creativity on the part of the child.
  • Real virtues are taught —especially charity and humility.

Cautions:

  • At least some of the humor in these books is aimed over the children’s heads, appealing rather to the adult who reads the book aloud.
  • No religion is taught here. These are works of unbaptised imagination, written under the assumption (common in the author’s society and time) that matters of faith are too difficult for children.
  • Very little mention is made of family life. Christopher Robin is an only child and is, himself, the "parent" to the animals. This can be very amusing as he solves problems with the mind of a young child, but obviously, nothing of real family life can be taught.
  • The Pooh books have been taken over by Disney Studios and presented in both cartoons and picture books, illustrated in a flashy and cheapening way. These should be avoided in order not to spoil the real thing for our children.

Conclusion:

The Pooh books are very good books indeed, enjoyable to both children and those adults who have outgrown the need to "prove themselves" by rejecting all simple things. Pooh goes down best if read aloud and can be enriched with explanations. It can be used in first through third grade.