Return of the Pooh
An epic comeback, an otter, and what your inner child has to do with philosophy.
By Maria Popova
In 1926, English author Alan Alexander Milne took a shelf of his son’s stuffed toys and turned them into some of the best-loved books ever published — the Winnie-the-Pooh series was born. Today, 81 years after Christoper Robin and the gang left the Hundred Acre Wood, they are back for a new adventure.
Out today, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is among the most epic comebacks in English literature. Although Milne himself is long dead, the new book is written by David Benedictus — who also produced the audio adaptations of Winnie-the-Pooh, starring Dame Judi Dench — and meticulously based on Milne’s Pooh stories, with artwork by Mark Burgess in the style of original illustrator E. H. Shepard.
When speaking to The Guardian, Benedictus’ understandable anxiety about being lynched as a mere imitator comes charmingly packaged in his irreverent British humor:
What’s the worst thing that can happen, that I’ll be torn apart by wild journalists? Happened before and I survived. At worst everyone will hate me and I’ll just crawl under a bush and hide – I can live with that.
Burgess isn’t far behind in his nervousness about the drawings.
I approached this project with great trepidation. In my worst moments I wonder if Shepard would absolutely hate what I’m doing. That would be dreadful, I absolutely revere him.
But we have faith in the book — we see it as a brave and ambitious homage to one of humanity’s most iconic children’s classics.
Among other surprises, it introduces a new character — Lottie the Otter. And we’re excited to read about Pooh as he delights and tickles our brains with brand new gems from his brilliantly simple yet philosophical Tao, while remaining the very bear we all know and love.
For a tease of a taste, have an exclusive read [linked PDF] of the first chapter and get lost in Jim Dale’s whimsical grandfatherly voice as he reads the book’s Exposition:
Like the original Winnie-the-Pooh books, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is as much an instant children’s classic as it is a clever and relevant meditation on our shared adult reality. So grab a copy and immerse yourself in that wondrous world that exists between your inner child and the grown-up philosopher in you.
Published October 5, 2009