The House at Pooh Corner – A.A. Milne

More in the Series – Pooh
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points.
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point.

Hey did you know that the totally famous Tigger wasn’t even in the first Pooh book? I didn’t even realise that until we read this one and he was introduced.

The same things I said about the first book pretty much apply to this one. There is still only one female character, and she has a lot less airtime in this one. There’s still no diversity, to speak of, but the kindness and timelessness of the stories is still intact.

Eeyore still annoys the crap out of me, but it is kind of lovely how the rest of the characters continue to treat him kindly despite that.

And that ending! Oh my. I may have gotten a bit choked up while reading it out loud to my little boy who is, like his namesake in the book, off at school learning stuff. He can now recognise his name on the page, which he couldn’t really do when we read the first one. He stopped me to show me the apostrophe in “it’s” and tell me about how it shows that there is a letter missing, and is short for “it is”. (Can I point out that my five year old has mastered the it’s/its distinction. Ahem.) My little guy, like the Christopher in the book, is growing up and moving on and the poignancy of that last scene might have tugged strongly at my over-relating mommy heartstrings. 

We both loved reading this book together. It doesn’t score high in the metrics of what we’ve been doing here, but it is a classic for good reason, and remains a quite lovely set of tales about a boy and his friends. It is all about kindness and friendship, and I can’t really fault that.

Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

POINTS: 4 out of 10.

Bechdel:  0 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 2 point

I hadn’t actually realised how long the original Winnie-the-Pooh book is. It took us a while to get through together, but every story was familiar to me – as if, despite never having read it cover to cover, I had kind of osmosed the stories simply by living in the world.

There’s a lot to commend them. Obviously a big reason why they’re so well known now is that Disney got its paws on the stories. But there is something amazingly timeless about these stories, and, in some cases, quite progressive. It doesn’t pass Bechdel, since there is only one female character (Kanga) who is very much the quintessential ‘mom’ figure. But even as a mother, she has a fairly wicked sense of humour (as evidenced by the story in which Piglet sneaks into her pouch in place of Roo, and she pretends she simply hasn’t noticed, forcing Piglet to have a bath he really doesn’t want to take).

I’ve never been much of a fan of Eeyore, but I have to love how the characters simply carry on treating him as one of their own despite his self-pity, and passive aggression. There’s a lesson there about empathy and kindness that is sorely needed in the world. 🙂

As far as this project goes, it’s not that high scoring – there is no real diversity – but the overriding message of kindness is still very relevant, and the timelessness of the stories is pretty wonderful. I’ve never really watched the Disney versions with great attention, so I can’t speak to how true to the original texts they are. But the book itself is still charming as hell, ninety years after it was originally published, which, frankly, is no small feat. There is something about the ‘world of a child’ that makes it universal and still very relatable, even after all those years.

So, yes, well worth getting your hands on the original text and reading these stories with your kids. 🙂

What do you think? Are you a fan of the Poohniverse? (Sorry! I couldn’t help myself) How do you think the Disney versions compare?