40. Winnie-the-Pooh. Or, the most questionable (G-rated) title for a children’s book ever.

Seriously, what was A.A. Milne thinking when he bestowed ‘Pooh’ as one of the names of a teddy bear (originally known as Edward Bear, thank you)? I, for one, spent my entire childhood giggling from behind my hands at the title of the book/bear (“Ha ha! His name is Pooh! Like a poo! Why would you name a poo Winnie? HAHA!”). Unless it was Milne’s plan all along. You see, it must be a conspiracy: A..A. Milne named the book/bear Winnie-the-Pooh so that we didn’t notice that Eeyore the donkey is, in fact, a manic-depressive. Either that, or the word ‘poo’ wasn’t used in 1926.

Considering I’m not actually that immature child anymore, whatever people may say, I had much better get to the point. I finally opened this book (a very nice one actually; a faithful reprinting of the illustrations and layout of the original, although I don’t think it’s the one in the image above), and was suitably chastised by my brain for not reading it sooner. Like, when I was actually young enough to fit into the target audience. Winnie-the-Pooh reads like a nice, elderly grandfather telling a story at his grandkid’s birthday party (before the kids all run off to play Wii). It’s cute and, more often than not, put a smile on my face.

Some parts did not. Aside from having a questionable name, Pooh bear was also frequently referred to as a Bear of Very Little Brain (and quite often in a disparaging tone by Pooh bear himself, which can only be expected if both the narrator and Pooh’s friends have such little, and vocal, regard for Pooh’s intellect). I feel like starting a People Against the Discrimination Of Pooh group (or PADOP, which actually reminds me of popsicles), because, to me, Pooh is absolutely brilliant. Check out this excerpt:

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting to-day?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s the same thing,” he said.

See! Pooh is a philosopher, on top of being a poet and a songwriter. Actually, since we are having this discussion, what’s up with every single classic book having poetry and songs transcribed into them? Is it to add atmosphere? Is to entertain the masses? Because, normally, I find them oh-so-frightfully boring, but Pooh’s were quite adorable – meaning, I actually read them.

Original illustration by E.H. Shepard

Winnie-the-Pooh took me a couple of hours to finish, because I was rather reluctant to reach the end (I want moar). But, a warning: be wary of having characters’ voices imprinted in your mind from the cartoons – every time I read over Pooh’s dialogue, it sounded like that slow, old man’s voice in the hand-drawn tv series. I guess this is further proof for the benefits of reading the book before watching the movie, although I can hardly be blamed for being exposed to the cartoon in my very impressionable youth. Anyway, this book can kick the ass of that absolutely awful computer animated remake of the original cartoon, complete with a girl instead of Christopher Robin, that dared turn up on my tv over the holidays. That is all.

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19 responses to “40. Winnie-the-Pooh. Or, the most questionable (G-rated) title for a children’s book ever.

  1. I actually enjoyed reading these books to my daughter when she was littler, partly because they were calming for her, partly because I secretly wanted to grab a copy of the DSM-IV and diagnose every single character with a psychological disorder. You are so right on about Eeyore (I laughed my a** off when I read that :).

  2. silverneurotic

    I’m almost positive I had this book when I was younger… but I can’t actually remember if I read it or not. I should have. I really did like the cartoon when I was a kid.

  3. I’ve never read these either but have seen the cartoons and was always worried that no one seemed worried that Eeyore always seemed right on the edge of throwing himself in the river. Maybe that’s just me.
    But I actually thought it was funny when someone pointed out that Pooh wasn’t very smart because Pooh didn’t seem to mind at all and was happy no matter what other people said. I liked that about him. I wish I were more like Pooh sometimes.

    • That’s true – I think Pooh is a very happy bear. Particularly when he has honey. I share that trait with him, except with chocolate instead of honey…

  4. It is truly a treat to have found your blog. Books are one of my most sincerest passions. Winnie the Pooh is a nostalgic read for me. Takes me back to those warm sunny evenings drinking tea with my Grandmother and eating ginger crisps. I will soon to be returning to read more :D

  5. Winnie-the-Pooh was my favorite book in childhood; I read and reread it. Then I moved on to hardcore pornography. But, boy, what a lovely philosophical bear.

    Anyway, I really like your site too. (You can take that any way you like.)

  6. “Anyway, this book can kick the ass of that absolutely awful computer animated remake of the original cartoon, complete with a girl instead of Christopher Robin, that dared turn up on my tv over the holidays…”

    How DARE she appear on your TV!?!? So rude! I hope they never make a full length movie that I have to review in my blog with this girl. Of course I will get to trash it, so it might be fun!

    • It was pretty fun trashing it on tv to be honest.
      Also, I am very serious about my childhood cartoons. Kind of on-topic, but I hope you will be reviewing Avatar the movie soon? Not Cameron’s – the cartoon turned live action movie about the air-bender Yes, do that…

  7. I am attempting to preview and review all widely released movies that hit theaters in the states. So I will absolutely be doing The Last Airbender. I haven’t seen the cartoon, but the movie looks pretty good. Looking forward to it. I’ll keep you posted.

  8. I must read it now. You’ve completely inspired me. However I too fear for the television character voices that will be in my head. In fact even as I read the excerpt from your blog- Pooh was in slow-motion and piglet was cowardly annoying. Ah well. Thank you again for another fantastic entry.

    xx charlie

    p.s. I giggled about pooh/poo too… was it our generation? Children today don’t giggle about wii/wee.. hmm.

    • Must be: let it be known that our generation was/is immature. I love that you’ve described Pooh’s voice as “slow-motion” – it has made my day. And thank you for the lovely comment!
      – Ilona

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  11. parrishlantern

    Pooh was one the greatest philosophers of the 20th century, easily up there with Sartre & Camus , just listen to the existential angst in the phrase “The more pooh looked, the more piglet wasn’t there” doesn’t that just scream modern mans dilemma in a world where Nietsche declared god dead

    • I think kids make a lot more sense than adults, and since Pooh was, presumably, quite young, I felt like a lot of his remarks were pretty spot on. I’ll definitely be taking Pooh’s advice should the occasion arise!

  12. parrishlantern

    PS. Should read ,” one of the – (got over excited. sorry.)

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