I heard on NPR this morning there is a new sequel to AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books. Let me start by saying the author, David Benedictus, has done his homework. He’s spent considerable time researching Milne’s life, picking apart the Pooh stories, and even visiting the original hundred acre wood. He has taken great care to write in the voice of Milne, keeping the characters true to his vision.
Let me also say I have read other sequels created by other authors: Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett and one of the many Rebecca spin-offs, to name a few. Each of these I was able to read as an observer, appreciating some new insight but ultimately keeping my allegiance to the real Scarlett O’Hara or Mrs. DeWinter.
But Pooh Bear?
Pooh is a sacred part of childhood. That last chapter in The House at Pooh Corner (a gut-wrenching read aloud) shows that as bittersweet as it is, Christopher Robin is growing up. He can’t come back as he has before. His relationship with his stuffed friends is different now.
I appreciate the author’s intention to stay true to Milne’s characters and even his statement that not everyone will want new Pooh. And in reading through this, I can see what an utter goofball I must appear to be, seeing any alteration to particular characters as a personal affront. I just can’t help it. Characters from childhood are special. As well-intentioned as Mr. Benedictus’s good words might be, I can’t add to the stories I grew up with.
What do you think?