Fandom wars: when people belonging to a certain cult fandom argue with people from other fandoms as to whose fandom is the awesomest. We’ve got the Whovians, Potterheads, Twilighters, Sherlock people (what do you even call those?), Tolkienites, Avengers, Tributes, Trekkies, Demigods, and all the other fandoms who are going to want me dead when they see I left out their names.
Sure, they’re all great. But there is one fandom that leaves them all behind. Which one is that? you may ask. I will tell you.
What? Stop laughing. No, really, stop it. I’m being serious.
Or am I? I guess you’ll never know. Even I can’t tell when I’m being serious.
But honestly, there’s no denying that Winnie-the-Pooh is epic. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a world bereft of Pooh Bear is not a world I would want to live in.
I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say that The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne is one of the best books I have ever read.
Call it a children’s book if you will, but I’m not entirely convinced. Sure, little kids can understand it, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t read and love it, too. The World of Pooh is not a book you grow out of. In fact, I’d say it’s a book that you appreciate more the older you get.
The World of Pooh contains both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, bringing all 20 of A.A. Milne’s Pooh Bear stories into one book. With the help of the brilliant illustrator Ernest H. Shephard, A.A. Milne brought to life such lovable characters as the ever-anxious Piglet, the depressed and cynical donkey named Eeyore, business-like Rabbit, bouncy Tigger, and young Roo. But, most importantly, A.A. Milne brought us the tubby yellow bear called Pooh.
The World of Pooh is a bit difficult to describe because it is not a continuous story. From Pooh masquerading as a Little Black Raincloud during an attempted hunny heist to the finding of Eeyore’s tail to the moving of Owl into his Wolery, this volume is a collection of short but Very Grand Adventures.
Storyline is not this book’s main focus. Rather, The World of Pooh is about the characters and what these characters teach us.
Piglet taught us that even small, timid people can do Very Grand Things and sometimes the Heffalumps and Woozles in our lives aren’t nearly as scary as we thought they might be.
Tigger taught us to be proud of being the only kind of us around and showed us that we shouldn’t let other people take away what makes us special. He also proved that Tiggers don’t climb trees and that they don’t eat hunny, haycorns, or thistles, a fact that may or may not come in handy some day.
Eeyore, my soul animal, turned Gloom, Sarcasm, and Cynicism into an art. He also showed that a Little Consideration, a popped balloon, and an empty pot of hunny to stick the popped balloon in can make all the difference in a person’s life.
Rabbit proved that having a Brain and Knowing Things doesn’t necessarily mean that you know better than others. And remember that annoyingly happy, bouncy person in your life who possibly has orange stripes? He’s really not that bad once you get to know him.
Owl showed us that sometimes we need to talk less, use shorter words, and take the time to pay attention to what’s going on around us. Otherwise we might end up using a friend’s tail as a bell-pull.
Kanga and Roo…well, they taught us that you should always listen to your mother.
For a Bear of Very Little Brain, Winnie-the-Pooh has a lot of wisdom (not to mention Fun and Adventure) to offer. He taught us that a little hunny fixes almost anything and that Today should always be our favorite day. We must stick with our friends, even if we have to go hunting for their tails or floating down a river in an umbrella to rescue them. He taught us how to play Pooh Sticks and how to pose as a Little Black Raincloud. He proved that being Short and Tubby is something to be proud of and that the Hummy Sort of Days are the best kind. But, most importantly, he reminded us that you never can tell with bees.
Up till now, I’ve reviewed lots of science fiction and action novels, so The World of Pooh is a bit outside of my usual circle. None of the characters wield swords, fly a space ship, or fight ROUS’s. I’m pretty sure Pooh Bear doesn’t have any superpowers, and I know he couldn’t hitch a ride across the galaxy or use a lightsaber to save his life.
Yet he remains one of my favorite fictional characters of all-time.
In a world of dystopian novels and horror stories, blood-drenched protagonists and PTSD suffering side-kicks, it’s nice to have a story like Winnie-the-Pooh’s to fall back on. Not only is A.A. Milne’s writing style pleasant and whimsical, but it also happens to be funnier than many comedies and more sincere than many sermons. If there ever is a day when you’re feeling a bit Eeyore-ish and down, all you have to do is open The World of Pooh. It doesn’t matter what story you read or what page you end up on. You will always walk away feeling a bit more Hopeful and Encouraged about the world.
This is also the kind of book that you can read over and over and notice new things each time.
For example, when I first read it as a little kid, I was struck by the fact that Piglet was actually a dude. For some strange reason, the Disney movie made me think he was a girl.
The second time around I laughed when I realize that, despite the fact that Pooh sings a poem about them, Cottleston Pies are not a real food…unless you count the ones I made on my blog. I also felt like an idiot for not noticing that the names Kanga and Roo spell Kangaroo when put together.
The third time around I realized that A.A. Milne’s only child was called Christopher Robin and he was Milne’s source of inspiration for the Winnie-the-Pooh series. Also, am I the only dummy who just noticed that Eeyore got his name because that’s the noise donkey’s make? Betcha can’t guess where the names Rabbit and Owl came from…
Anyway, the point is this: you will never be too young or too old for Winnie-the-Pooh. You will always notice new things and learn new lessons. You will never feel depressed after reading it, though maybe slightly nostalgic and definitely quietly optimistic.
So, if you ever have some extra time on your hands, grab yourself a pot of hunny, a copy of The World of Pooh, find yourself a nice corner of The Hundred Acre Wood, and prepare to go on a Very Grand Adventure.
But, before you go, don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know what you think of Pooh Bear and Company. What have they taught you over the years?
Hannah Heath – bookworm and aspiring author