Sonderbooks     Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

More Info from

Rate this Book

Sonderbooks 19
    Previous Book
    Next Book

Young Adult Fiction
Children's Nonfiction
Children's Fiction
        Previous Book
        Next Book

Picture Books

2002 Stand-outs
    Previous Book
    Next Book
Five-Star Books
    Previous Book
    Next Book

Four-Star Books
Old Favorites
    Previous Book
    Next Book

Back Issues
List of Reviews by Title
List of Reviews by Author

Links For Book Lovers

About Me
Contact Me
Post on Bulletin Board

I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


by A. A. Milne

Reviewed January 8, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#3, Young Adult and Children's Classic Rereads)
Many different editions are in print.  First written in 1926.
Available at Sembach Library (JF MIL)

Last week, my husband and I went to Rothenburg for our 15th wedding anniversary.  In a cute Teddy Bear shop, I found Pu der Bär-- Winnie-the-Pooh in German.  I couldn’t resist buying a copy.  After all, the language is simple, and I have many parts of the English version memorized.  What better prop could I find for my pursuit of Learning German Without Actually Speaking to a German?

On thinking about it later, I realized that Winnie-the-Pooh was an especially appropriate purchase for a Special Occasion of Remembrance.  This prompted the following:

“Reflections on Winnie-the-Pooh.

Winnie-the-Pooh is one of the first books I remember my mother reading to me, sitting in her lap in the rocking chair.  I remember it as being one of the three books I checked out from the “big part” of the library.  The others were The Poppy-Seed Cakes, and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, whose authors I don’t remember.  I seem to remember a big library that we only went to occasionally in Renton.  (As opposed to a smaller library that we visited more regularly.  Could this actually be based in fact?)  And I remember getting Winnie-the-Pooh from a big, huge, towering shelf.  I must have been three or four.

Part of the charm of my early memories of Pooh were that the words made perfect sense to me.  When I was told that Piglet’s grandfather was named “Trespassers Will,” which was short for “Trespassers William,” and that he was named Trespassers after an uncle and William after Trespassers, I simply accepted this statement.  When Pooh takes Piglet’s hand in case Piglet is frightened, I simply found that kind of him.

Part of the delight of re-discovering Pooh my Freshman year of college (or so) was realizing how delightfully funny the whole thing is.  The fact is, A. A. Milne captures exactly the way small children think.  I remembered thinking this way myself, and was delighted to now be in on the joke.

Later that year, I held my very first all-nighter, writing a term paper for English 101.  This would have been fine--It was duly finished at 6:30, before I had to go to school.  The only problem was that at 8:30, I had a Calculus test.  Mind you, I had taken Calculus in high school and knew this material backwards and forwards.  But that was the hardest Math test I’ve ever taken in my life.  My mind refused to function.  I went over and over that test, managing to squeeze out a little more information on each pass through.  Afterwards, someone joked to me about how easy I must have found it, and I burst into tears.  Put simply, I was a basket case!

At lunch time, I had to wait for a ride home.  I called up a friend for comfort.  I must have sounded pathetic.  He came right over to the Eagle’s Nest where I was eating lunch--and recited a chapter of The House at Pooh Corner.  It was the chapter where Tigger bounces Eeyore into the river.  He recited it with great enthusiasm, and cheered me up immensely.

Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh is at its most delightful when read (or recited) aloud.  I still had very young brothers and sisters, so I tried it out on them.  One year, when the choir drove up for its annual Yosemite retreat, we got a group of us reading Winnie-the-Pooh in the back of a station wagon.  Great fun!

Without question, the most momentous occasion of Winnie-the-Pooh touching my life was on May 17, 1984.  I was having breakfast in the cafeteria after my 6:45 bowling class.  I ran into a certain young man named Steve Eklund.  My companion and I mentioned the Open House our dorm was having that night.  Somehow or other, it came up that reading Winnie-the-Pooh is a delightful group activity.  Steve agreed to come to the Open House to read Winnie-the-Pooh.

It went wonderfully well.  Steve brought some friends, and I had some other friends there.  We had quite a crowd of us squeezed around the book, each one taking a different voice.  When it was all over, it dawned on me, “Sondy, you just fell for that guy!”  It was true.  What can I say?  He does a really great Eeyore.

And that wasn’t the end of Winnie-the-Pooh’s touching my life.  Both of my sons very first flights of imagination involved taking on the role of Piglet.  I well remember 3-year-old Josh walking up to me.  I said, “Hi, Josh!” and he answered in a high, squeaky voice, “My name is Piglet!”  Later on, when Timmy first learned to write his name, he spelled it P-O-O-H.  That year for Christmas, we labelled all of our gifts “To Piglet, From Pooh;” or “To Pooh, From Tigger,” and the like, to humor Timmy.

Even now, with my boys 13 and 8, we can have a great time as a family reading the books all together, each taking a different character.  It’s an activity I hope we’ll never outgrow.

Truly A. A. Milne’s classics are unsurpassed as a first chapter book to read to a little one.  Have you noticed that there are no villains?  Children’s cartoons always seem to put in a bad guy, but they are scarce in children’s books.  Mind you, in the Saturday morning cartoons that Disney made from Winnie-the-Pooh, they tried to stick in villains here and there, but it only came out silly.  They did the best with Winnie-the-Pooh where they stick to the books.  Pooh is so much more than Cute.

Of course, I have enjoyed some of Disney’s commercialization of Winnie-the-Pooh.  Last count, I had five different Winnie-the-Pooh shirts.  I’m wearing one right now.  I also have a Winnie-the-Pooh watch, a key chain, and a pair of socks from Disneyland Paris that is almost worn out.  I guess you’d have to call me a hard-core Pooh fan.

I’ve already read two chapters of Pu der Bär.  Alas!  My family isn’t too keen on hearing this one read aloud.  And “Bei Bienen kann man nie wissen” doesn’t have the same ring to it as “You never can tell with bees.”  However, I will persevere, enjoying the delighted remembrances that it stirs up of my many years with Winnie-the-Pooh.

Reviews of related books:
audio version of this book
Pooh and the Philosophers, by John Tyerman Williams
The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh, by Kathryn Aalto

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

-top of page-