Dec 13, 2008

The House at Pooh Corner

by A.A. Milne

I have been reading The House at Pooh Corner gradually over the past few weeks with my daughter. We enjoyed this second collection of Pooh stories just as much as the first (Winnie the Pooh). The various adventures are full of a childlike wonder and imagination. My favorite stories in the book are where Pooh and Piglet build a house for Eeyore, and another where Tigger gets stuck up a tree. My daughter really liked the one where Owl's tree fell down and Piglet saved the day.

I thought a lot this time about the different characters in the book; each seems to represent a different kind of person, some which could be annoying when you meet them in real life: Rabbit the self-important busybody, Owl pretending he knows more than anybody else, Eeyore always finding a reason to be morose and depressed, Pooh well-meaning but bumbling, Kanga forever practical, Piglet shy and self-effacing, and Tigger (perhaps my favorite) always optimistic and quick to save face. Even though the characters often express their dislike of others' behavior, sometimes outright (like when Rabbit plans to get Tigger lost because his incessant bouncing is so irritating) they always make efforts to be kind and considerate, to be true friends. It's admirable and makes the stories all the more endearing. I've noticed that in the cartoons Tigger is excessively cheerful, to the point of being a serious annoyance, but in the book he's not like that at all. I remember when I was a child and my mother read me the story, I felt sorry for Tigger when he first showed up that rainy night, a stranger who doesn't seem to even know himself well (they spend the whole chapter trying to figure out what Tigger likes to eat for breakfast). Pooh welcomes him and introduces him to the others, but Tigger seems to feel uncomfortable as a newcomer for quite some time, anxious to make himself look good and find ways to fit in with the close community of the Forest. I felt sympathetic towards him.

The stories are all fun and charming, and the only one I didn't recognize from my childhood was the final chapter, where Christopher Robin says goodbye to Pooh in a rather muddled way. It was unclear to us where he was going. Off to school? Simply growing up and not playing with his old toys anymore? This was the only story upon which my daughter shut the book, but as we were already at the end, I didn't mind.

Rating: 5/5 ........180 pages, 1928

I can't find any other blog reviews of this book, so if you've written one, let me know!

11 comments:

Nymeth said...

I really want to read this! It was only this year that I discovered Pooh, and I was actually surprised that I loved it so much. Good to hear this second book is just as enjoyable :)

Petunia said...

Nowadays Tigger is portrayed as ADHD. I haven't yet read these books for myself. I wonder if that is how he is written, like a big two year old boy.

Jeane said...

Nymeth- Usually sequels are not quite as good as the first book; I'm happy to say these are equal in quality.

Petunia- he's not written that way at all! Cheerful and bouncy yes; but not to excess. It's probably hard to get away from that impression though, if you first introduction to Tigger is what Disney did to him.

Dana said...

My fav book when I was a child was When I was Young by A.A. Milne. Loved Pooh and all his poems

carolsnotebook said...

I love Winnie the Pooh.

Michelle said...

Now that my son is getting a bit older I can't wait to read him 'big boy' stories like these. I can't wait to share my favourite books with him!

writer2b said...

I've never read any of the Pooh stories! I've only seen the movie versions of these characters. Your review really stirs my interest.

jennysbooks said...

I loved Pooh when I was a kid. Now that I'm all grown-up, I still think the books are charming, but I have a hard time forgetting that Christopher Robin from real life had to grow up with everyone knowing all of his baby toys. Poor kid. And that casts a bit of a pall.

Jeane said...

I actually heard that the original Winnie was a bear at the zoo that Christopher Robin liked to visit. I never thought about what it would be like growing up with your favorite toys (and the stories you invented about them) being published.

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Anonymous said...

As someone old enough to have grown up with Pooh before the Disney monster got it's claws into it (utterly corrupting Tigger and for some completely inexplicable reason thinking it desirable to add a gopher with a whistling lisp, that quite definitely was Never in the Forest) I would like to defend both Tigger as originally written and delightfully illustrated by Mr Shepard, and the final Chapter.

It remains, in my adulthood, an incredibly evocative piece of writing, that takes me effortlessly to the pain of separation that is an inevitable part of growing up, but is incredibly hopeful for that future, too.

Maybe thoughts that are properly lost on the child being read the story by a loving adult, but nonetheless an important part of the whole.

Pooh and Friends are one of English Literature's most wonderful gifts.