Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Birthday to Pooh

A.A. Milne (rhymes with "kiln," one syllable), Christopher Robin Milne, and Winnie-the-Pooh

NPR has reminded me that this month is the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh.  They posted a story about it, along with an audio clip of A.A. Milne reading from one of the stories in 1929:

So it seemed only appropriate, and timely, that I found these old friends at an estate sale this weekend:

One is The Pooh Story Book and the other is The World of Pooh, both by A.A. Milne and featuring "decorations and new illustrations in full color" by E. H. Shepard.

Inside one of the books was tucked a May 1970 McCall's magazine article on E. H. Shepard, shortly after he had created those new color illustrations.

That made me think:  E.H. Shepard did the first illustrations for the "Pooh" books in the 1920s.  He created new, color illustrations for reprint editions of the stories in the 1960s. 
E.H. Shepard, from

The website says of Shepard:

In his eighty-ninth year, he visited old friends and relations in Cape Town, Durban, Perth, Sydney and Tasmania, returning through Tahiti so that he could look at Gauguin relics.

In the same year, he completed some new Pooh drawings for a revised edition published by Dutton [publisher of the two books I found at the estate sale] in the United States; these remained lost and forgotten until discovered some years later by the now President of Dutton Children's books, Christopher Franceschelli, in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string.

89 years old.

I love stories about people who keep doing what their Creator gifted them to do, for decades on end.  E.H. Shepard did, and so did Christopher Robin and his faithful Bear:

And they still remember, to this day, 90 years later.  I give them a very good chance of reaching that hundred-year mark.

I have a young friend who will receive these old books about Pooh and the other creatures who live in the Hundred Acre Wood.  He's just discovering the joy of a good tale simply told and well-illustrated.

The story, indeed, goes on.  

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