Books Your Kid Should Read

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Luis Borges

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17 August 2008

The House At Pooh Corner
by A. A. Milne
Illus. Ernest H. Shepard

If your only familiarity with Pooh Bear comes from the Disney cartoons, hie thee to a bookstore and buy some of the original stories, pronto. Don't get me wrong: as a child of the 1970s I have as many fond memories as anyone of watching those Disney animations of a Sunday. But there's really nothing to compare with the language, imagery, and wit of Milne's words and Shepard's pictures. The House At Pooh Corner is the second storybook devoted to Pooh and his pals (Winnie-the-Pooh being the first), and it's got to rank as one of the all-time great sequels in literary history. No, really! Not only are we introduced to Tigger, a scene stealer in the fine tradition of such "secondary" characters as Sam Weller or Mr. Toad, but Owl's house gets blown down in a storm, Piglet and Pooh build Eeyore a "new" house, and the wonderful game of Poohsticks is invented. As usual with A. A. Milne's work, there's as much to entertain the adults who are reading the stories as the children listening to them. As I reread it recently (To myself, since you ask. At bedtime. You got a problem with that?) I was struck anew by the poignancy of the latter chapters of Pooh Corner. Christopher Robin is growing up, and though the assurances in the final sentence that "wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing" are sufficient to quiet any younger reader's fears, the older reader can't help but acknowledge how hard it is to find that enchanted place sometimes. Fortunately, there are always the Pooh books to help us out.