I’m not positive when I received my boxed set of Winnie-The-Pooh books by A.A. Milne. I have a feeling it’s when I turned twenty and my friends in my dorm at American University gave me a Raggedy Ann doll. You see, I was having some difficulty leaving my teens and actually saying the word “twenty.” Oh! That was so long ago…Fast forward to now when a Medicare card is ensconced in my wallet. Proudly, I might add.
At the New York Public Library on 42nd Street there is a wonderful exhibit of children’s literature, The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter, which I saw last night. The Women’s National Book Association of NYC had a private tour. And it was there that I saw the original Winnie the Pooh. The actual bear that Christopher Robin played with! And Pooh had his friends with him: Tigger, Eyeore, Piglit, Kanga, but not Roo. Our docent explained that the library has not been able to find Roo anywhere. Perhaps he hopped out of his mom’s pouch, Kanga that is, and found his way into an ash can (as they say in London where he lived) all those years ago when Christopher Robin Milne played with his stuffed toys. All the animals looked well-used and Pooh was a dirty grayish brown, not the pale yellow I’ve seen in stores today. But he was just as cute!
A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh and many other books about Pooh including The House at Pooh Corner didn’t originally set out to write books for children, but “ instead intended them for the child within us”, as stated in the website www.just-pooh.com . As I learned during our tour, Milne began by writing down the bedtime stories he told his own son, Christopher Robin, and aren’t we fortunate for that? Imagine the daddy cuddled in bed with his little boy, making up adventures using his son’s stuffed toys, strewn across the fluffy bed covers, as characters.
I reached up to the top book shelf in what was once my son’s room, now called “my room” by my grandson – he’s claimed it as his own- or known as the playroom when all the kids come to visit (I’m lucky to have lots of these little boy treasures in my life) and took down my copy of Winnie-The-Pooh. Yes, after all these years I still have it, and readily available. Love swelled my heart when I noticed scribbles, designs, and my own boys’ names written on the front and back covers, and the names of their friends. Some might think it wrong to deface such a treasure, but I hugged that book close. It made me smile and what a wonderful way to start a rainy day - a day I plan do get back to some of my own writing. Milne has inspired me. Maybe I'll take another shot at the children's story rolling around my head, or maybe I'll wait and try it out on those little guys I mentioned above. As an aside, one of my stories, adult that is, will soon be published in The Dying Goose, an on-line magazine. I'll let you know when I have the date. In the meantime, if you'd like to read some of my writing, go to my website www.linda-rosen.com. And...
Do yourself a favor, go see the exhibit at the New York Public Library, if you’re lucky enough to be in the area, and re-read Winnie-the-Pooh. He’s quite an intelligent bear. And, enjoy the “Decorations” by Ernest H. Shepard. Illustrations just aren’t the same today.