JANUARY
18
Illustrated by Ernest Shepard

A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
JANUARY 18:

  • Happy birthday Catherine Anholt (Chimp and Z), Raymond Briggs (The Snowman), and Alan Schroeder (Ragtime Tumpie).
  • It’s the birth date of lexicographer Peter Roget (1779–1869), Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. It’s also Thesaurus Day.
  • In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt sends a radio message to King Edward VII, the first transatlantic radio transmission originating in the United States. Read The Radio by Gayle Worland.
  • Jazz goes mainstream! In 1944 the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City hosts a jazz concert for the first time. Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge, and Jack Teagarden played. Read If I Only Had a Horn by Roxane Orgil.

Today has been designated Winnie-the-Pooh Day. On October 14, 1926, a British playwright, who also liked to dabble in poetry and prose for children, published a book named after a stuffed toy bear: “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”

Milne’s son Christopher Robin had been, with the help of his mother, making up stories about his toys. Eventually Alan Milne joined in, writing an occasional poem and scene about Pooh and Christopher’s other toys—Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo, and Tigger, the tiger who liked to bounce. Milne spun these tales out, adding his own blend of whimsy and creative imagination to the material that Christopher had already provided. In the wonderful Hundred Acre Wood, these animals and Christopher Robin build a trap for a Heffalump, plan an “expotition” to the North Pole¸ and engage in a variety of exciting activities.

Then, one Saturday morning, the artist Ernest Shepard, who did not have an appointment, called on Milne at home to show a portfolio of his sketches. Milne loved these drawings, and consequently Shepard provided drawings for Milne’s poetry volume, When We Were Very Young, and also Winnie-the-Pooh. Milne then introduced Shepard to Kenneth Graham, who badly wanted an illustrated edition of The Wind in the Willows.

Today at New York Public Library’s Children’s Center at 42nd Street, the old and now battered toys of Christopher Robin Milne have found a permanent home. Preserved in cases for the delight of other children, they stand stiff and lifeless in place. Like all toys, they needed the care and imaginative power of their owner—and in this case, his father—to bring them to life.

I’m glad a Winnie-the-Pooh Day exists; the world is a better place because of this book. It has made children and families laugh, recite poetry, and even sing together for decades.

Here’s a passage from Winnie-the-Pooh:

 

Edward Bear, known to his friends as Winnie-the-Pooh, or Pooh for short, was walking through the forest one day, humming proudly to himself. He had made up a little hum that very morning, as he was doing his Stoutness Exercises in front of the glass: Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, as he stretched up as high as he could go, and then Tra-la-la, tra-la–oh, help!–la, as he tried to reach his toes. After breakfast he had said it over and over to himself until he had learnt it off by heart, and now he was humming it right through, properly.

 

Originally posted January 18, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Humor, Toys
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Winnie-the-Pooh
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COMMENTS

  1. Henderhouse says:

    And many happy returns of the day! (a phrase I learned as a child from the Winnie-the-Pooh books).

    Thanks for your lovely almanac!

    A children’s librarian

  2. Jill Casey says:

    I always liked the gentleness of the characters in Winnie the Pooh. Shepard’s drawings were a perfect match for the stories.

  3. G.Perry says:

    This must surely be the epitome work of what it should feel like to be a child in an atmosphere of gentility, kindness and love, and that their world is a safe place.

    I am unconvinced the world for most children today is such an experience. Perhaps a fortunate few.

    All the more reason to get great children’s literature into little hands.

  4. Teri-K says:

    My DH introduced me to Pooh. On the many nights I was plagued with depression and insomnia he would read the gentle, funny stories to me so I could relax and fall asleep. I love them.
    I do think that they go on an “expotition”, however, but I’m not home so I can’t check it in my copy of the book. I know we always called it that when we referred to it.
    Your blog is wonderful — such an undertaking. I hope it will become a book I can buy and share with my kids and their families.

  5. Wendy Braun says:

    Anita – I admire your work so much and recommended your “Everything I Need to Know…” on my own blog last week. I had no idea “Winnie-the-Pooh Day” existed until I saw your post! A.A. Milne knew how to capture the everyday, magical moments of childhood so beautifully! Loving your daily almanac of books.

  6. Anita says:

    Teri-K: Thanks for catching that typo — you are correct and it is now corrected.

  7. The Winnie-the-Pooh Disney cartoons were a big part of my childhood, but I’ve never actually read A. A. Milne’s work. Thank you for writing about them; you make me really want to read them, and to go see the animals at NYPL. I am getting so much out of your almanac. Thank you for writing it!

  8. Winnie-the-Pooh is the first book I remember taking home from the library when I was a child. It was, and will always be, one of my favorites.

  9. Tess W. says:

    I remember Winnie-the-Pooh as far back as my memory goes. I didn’t watch much TV but sometimes my mom would videotape Winnie-the-Pooh, the early TV show, and let me watch an episode each week. Between that, being read The Pooh Treasury aloud, and having my very own Eeyore stuffed animal (still have him, detachable tail and all!), Pooh was and always will be a huge part of my life.

    As an adult, I find reading the Treasury very cathartic. There’s a relaxing, soothing quality to Pooh’s logic and way of going about things.

    Wonderful start-of-year pick!

  10. Sam L. says:

    When I was very young, I was given a tiny stuffed Tigger. And because I was very young–so young that I didn’t find it disgusting–I thought Tigger’s tail was something good to chew on. Much to the chagrin of my parents, they couldn’t break me of that habit. I still have the toy, and every time I think of Winnie-the-Pooh, I think of Tigger, and I remember home and my parents.

    My love of the books begins with a love for the characters. Each character is a delight to read: Piglet is timid, but will most likely break into the fray to help his friends; Eeyore is the most openly depressed character in children’s literature (that I know of) and yet he is most happy when surrounded by friends and a well placed tail.

    Great post! I had forgotten that Pooh’s name is actually Edward Bear.

  11. Some books give us characters that live on in our hearts forever…the Winnie the Pooh series are a classic example of this. Thank you for celebrating our memories…and reminding us to share this treasure with little ones today.
    I’ve given you the Versatile Blogger Award even though I’ve only discovered your blog…it is one that every parent and teacher and caregiver of young children needs to visit. Here is the link to the post:
    http://viviankirkfield.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/project-365-challenge-day-17-awards-and-attitudes/#comment-1992
    I’ll be back often!

  12. Cathy Ogren says:

    I love Winnie-the-Pooh! For a bear of very little brain, he is a shining light in our world of literature!

  13. Betty Birney says:

    One of the great thrills of my life was going to the Ashdown Forest in Sussex last year – it’s the real Hundred Acre Wood (but it’s the five hundred acre wood). I had a great time playing pooh sticks with my British friend on the real poohsticks bridge. It’s really fun – but I lost. We were the only people in the Forest at the time and I expected Tigger to bounce out from behind a tree.

  14. G. Perry says:

    What I said last year.

    And why oh why didn’t I buy Dutton’s The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh hard cover in the slip case, this holiday season, just for me, again.. Sigh..

    I should have you know.

    “Has anyone seen any fun waiting to happen?”
    WP

  15. Anita says:

    Betty, Cathy, and Gordon: Thanks for the comments on Pooh. What a great quote — and how I long to visit the real Hundred Acre Wood.

  16. Anita says:

    Vivian: I am pleased to be given any award for this blog — as it has been a labor of love.

  17. Thanks for reminding me of Winnie the Pooh Day. My youngest son is wearing his Winnie the Pooh shirt and we just read 5 Pooh books to celebrate!!!

  18. Emma says:

    This is a must read for everyone. it is a great book for all ages

  19. Melanie says:

    I still have the battered hard-cover copy of Winnie-the-Pooh that my mother read to me and my brothers after me. Even though my youngest brother’s name is written in the book (in my mother’s hand), I know it was really MY book because I was the oldest. Favorite character: Piglet. And here is my favorite quote:

    “Later on … Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent. “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 *today*?” said Piglet.
    Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

  20. Julie Larios says:

    Tiddly pom!!!!!

  21. Caitlin Kling says:

    There is not enough space to write about how much I love these books! But I do have an interesting little bit of trivia. The Wind in the Willows connection continued on. It had to be no coincidence that at Walt Disney World, when Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was shutting down, they replaced it with none other than The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh! I say “no coincidence” because I believe the Imagineers knew the deep-rooted connection between the two books: if you look very closely, you can still see a picture of eccentric Mr. Toad handing over a deed to Owl, and a picture of Pooh and Mole in the Winnie the Pooh ride!

  22. Virginia says:

    I’m reading this book right now with a group of 2nd graders who had no idea that Winnie the Pooh was anything but a Disney character. One of my favorites! Thanks for the information. :)

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