Saturday, January 24, 2009

Silly Ol' Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh was born on August 21, 1921, as a first birthday gift to a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne. Pooh grew up to become the most beloved and famous bear in the world. He has appeared in books and films, and on all sorts of things from bedcovers to postage stamps. How is it possible for a stuffed toy animal to achieve such greatness?

Pooh’s road to fame began with A. A. Milne, an English novelist and playwright. Inspired by his four-year-old son, Milne tried his hand at some children’s poems, which were well received. Thereafter, between 1924 and 1928, Milne published four classic children’s books that introduced Christopher Robin and his fanciful friends Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and little Roo. Together they live in the enchanted Hundred-Acre Wood, where silly bears get stuck in rabbit holes after eating too much honey, little piglets are blown away by the wind, and zany tiggers bounce around everywhere. The four books, all illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, were hugely popular, and by 1960, books sales were already in the millions.

While literary Pooh continued to win new generations of fans, an on-screen Pooh was destined to expand the appeal of the Hundred-Acre Wood. In 1961, Walt Disney acquired the exclusive film rights to Milne’s Pooh stories. Under Disney’s guidance, a twenty-five-minute animated featurette, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, was released in February of 1966. Disney managed to preserve much of the innocence and charm found in the original stories and illustrations, while making Pooh accessible to a wider audience through animation. This first featurette set the stage for the success of the three featurette(s) that were created after Disney’s death.

Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear is a tribute to the wonder of Pooh, from his origin and literary success to his brilliant animated career and continued popularity. This is his story; but, moreover, it is his art- including more than 200 illustrations that detail the evolution of Pooh and his friends from stuffed toys to Shepard’s drawings to animated characters. The films’ stories are retold and followed by galleries of many never-before-published art from the production of the Disney futurities: early concept art, storyboards, rough animation, background art, and final cels. This collection of exquisite art, accompanied by the history of Pooh’s creation and popularity, is sure to become a treasure that all Pooh fans will cherish.
Title: Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear
Author: Christopher Robin Finch
Start & Finished: 8/28/08- 9/19/08
Published: 2000
Publisher: Disney Editions
Pages: 176
Genre: Non-fiction-Reference, History/ Art-Animation

Artist, photographer, and author Christopher Finch has written several books about Disney and the art of Disney movies but his latest Winnie-the-Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear is also one near and dear to his heart (Finch's full name is Christopher Robin Finch). Starting appropriately with A. A. Milne and ending with Disney's interpretations, this beautifully illustrated book is a must-read for fans of the "chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff."

I’ve read several books about Winnie the Pooh over the years and of course the A.A. Milne stories themselves, not to mention every Walt Disney film adaptation of my favorite bear (which were my introduction to Pooh) so I already knew most of the stuff about the history of Pooh. However, the author’s narrative was very unique and he included some truly gorgeous photos- including pictures of the original Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals, concept art for the Disney movies, the original book illustrations by Ernest Shepherd and much, much more.

Christopher Robin Finch’s Celebration of the Silly Old Bear was a wonderful little book and even though I admit to being a little more partial to Tigger myself, I really liked this book. It was very thick and awkwardly shaped though but the photos and art make it well worth the discomfort in the end.

Related Posts
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Links: Winnie the Pooh Wikipedia, A.A. Milne Wikipedia, Just-Pooh.com, Winnie the Pooh and Pals

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15 comments:

  1. Oh, I bet that is wonderful. I love Winnie the Pooh and the old Pooh videos. I have to admit that my favorite character is Piglet, though.

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  2. I love Winnie the Pooh! My daughter watches the newer cartoon they have on Disney My Friends Tigger and Pooh and she loves it :)

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  3. I'm a huge Pooh fan, although Eeyore is my favorite. Really enjoyed the article :)

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  4. Bermudaonion: Piglet is cute but never has been my favorite. You're right, this book was wonderful!

    Samantha: I've never seen that one. I don't think Disney can ever top The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh- best show ever!

    Wendy: Eeyore is my mom's favorite. Thank you!

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  5. oh how i wish I could buy this and replace all the pooh books I had for my kids.. I adore the books!!! and love the movies too.. especially the ones when sterling holloway was poohs voice. But the books are priceless!

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  6. I did not realize how old Winnie the Pooh is! He's practically ancient! LOL

    Christopher Robin Finch's book sounds like a great addition to the history of Pooh Bear. Thanks for sharing, Jen!

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  7. DesLily: Yes they are. I grew up with Jim Cummings as the voice of Pooh but there is just something about Holloway's Pooh voice!

    Wendy: You're welcome! I think he's only a couple of years older than Mickey Mouse but I'm not positive.

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  8. Interesting to get more of the history behind this enduring (and endearing) character!

    Was this a coffee-table type book? You said it was thick and awkward (those can be difficult to truly *read*)

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  9. Yes, I think it's considered a coffe-table book but I really did enjoy reading it.

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  10. Great post! Somehow Winnie the Pooh was not a part of my childhood. I'd love to read the book at some point!

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  11. Natasha: He didn't make it into my childhood either except via TV and movies so it was a first time read for me as well.

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  12. I love Winnie the Pooh and really must make sure I have read all the original stories. I went on a first date once to see The Tigger Movie which was a lot of fun.

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  13. Sounds like a lot of fun! I have read most of the Pooh stories but I know I haven't read them all.

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  14. How Winnie the Pooh got his name...

    http://pastexpiry.blogspot.com/2009/05/cartoon-winnie-pooh.html

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  15. Great post! Somehow Winnie the Pooh was not a part of my childhood. I'd love to read the book at some point!

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