Thursday, August 5, 2010

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus, inspired by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard

Christopher Robin has returned to the Hundred Acre Wood! Back from boarding school for the summer, Christopher Robin and all his old friends, plus a new one, enjoy many adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood.

I hadn't read this when it first came out, despite my love for the original Winnie-the-Pooh, because I was skeptical. It's really hard to write a sequel to book that someone else wrote, especially when trying to write in the original person's style, and especially if that original person had a very distinct style and voice in their writing, like Winnie-the-Pooh (or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). So although we had it in my library, I never got around to reading it.

After meeting David Benedictus I was more hopeful. Because he is awesome. Delightful, charming, really funny, had a fascinating life. Some people ran into him in a pub the night after he spoke to us (dressed as a ghost, because he had just done a ghost tour of Oxford), and they had a grand old time. And he read aloud a chapter of the book to us, and it was good. So I bought the book. And now I've read it.

For the most part, I really enjoyed it. It did have the heart of the original Winnie-the-Pooh, and some of the stories really felt like the originals too. I especially liked, "in which it stops raining for ever, and something slinky comes out of the river," which is the one where the new character, an otter named Lottie, is introduced, and "in which we are introduced to the game of cricket."

There were also some stories that just didn't feel right to me. In particular, "in which Owl becomes an author, and then unbecomes one," and "in which Tigger dreams of Africa." I'm not sure I can totally explain why it didn't feel right. It just didn't. The characters acted to sneaky, too mature, too much like people. Yeah, it just didn't feel right.

I also had some problems with the hums that Pooh makes up. David had said one of the hardest things was the hums, and they felt too much like poems to me. Yes yes, I know that they sort of are poems. But they're hums, and they, again, didn't feel quite right.

Overall, it was very nice, very sweet and hopeful, as it should be. Christopher Robin has to leave again at the end, since he's in school now, but perhaps he'll come back for another summer. David hoped that reading the new Pooh stories would inspire people who hadn't to read the originals, and I it will.

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