Revisiting the Hundred Acre Wood

There is a new Winnie the Pooh movie in theatres these days. I’ve always enjoyed reading the original stories and am looking forward to sharing them with my 2-year-old daughter when she’s a little bit older. This Winnipeg inspired bear of very little brain still has something of value to share with us, over 75 years after he first appeared in the Hundred Acre Wood. The following materials can all be found in Winnipeg Public Library’s collection.

The best place to start would be to have a look at the original stories again. “The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie Pooh”. This is a collection of the four original books: Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When we were very young, and Now We Are Six. This book includes all of Ernest Shepard’s original illustrations hand painted in watercolour. It is here where we meet Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit and Tigger for the very first time.

If you would like to learn more about the person who created these classic tales, I recommend “The Brilliant Career of Winnie the Pooh” by Ann Thwaite.

For a more personal touch, please have a look at “The Enchanted Places”. This memoir is written by Christopher Robin Milne, the only child of A.A. Milne and the inspiration for the Pooh stories. Milne reminisces on what his childhood was like and provides unique insight into his father’s character.

How Milne’s main character came to be called “Winnie the Pooh” is a fascinating story in itself, and can be discovered in “The Real Winnie: A One-of-a-kind Bear” by Val Shushkewich. This book tells the story of veterinarian Harry Coleburn. Coleburn was travelling from Winnipeg to a WWI training camp in Quebec when he purchased an orphaned black bear from a hunter in White River, Ontario for $20. The bear became an unofficial mascot for Coleburn’s regiment, The Fort Garry Horse, and was named “Winnie” after Winnipeg. Coleburn later donated Winnie to the London Zoo, where A.A. Milne and his son Christopher discovered her.

The themes and ideas presented in the Pooh stories hold universal appeal. Because of this, many writers have taken the “Hundred Acre Wood” model and adapted it to explain various “adult” concepts.

One of the first to do this was Benjamin Hoff with “The Tao of Pooh” and “The Te of Piglet”. Hoff uses the Pooh universe to discuss some basic beliefs in Eastern Spirituality.

Not to be outdone, John Tyeman Williams gives Western Philosophy the “Pooh” treatment in “Pooh and the Philosophers”.

“Winnie the Pooh on Problem Solving” uses the interactions between Pooh characters as a basis for explaining some self-help coping mechanisms.

Roger Allen must have been encouraged by the success of this book, because it didn’t him long to write a follow up on management principles. It may seem a bit of a stretch to have a stranger visit the Hundred Acre Wood and explain management principles based on the work of Drucker, Levitt and MacGregor, but this is exactly what happens in “Winnie the Pooh on Management”.


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