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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pooh Day

Tomorrow marks the birthday of A.A. (Alan Alexander) Milne, the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh. Born in 1882 in London, Milne is remembered for his children’s stories in Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. Pooh also appears in poems in When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.

According to Wikipedia, Milne named the bear after a toy owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who in turn was the basis for the character Christopher Robin in the stories. Supposedly Christopher had named the bear after “Winnipeg,” a bear he and his father saw often at the London Zoo, and “Pooh,” a swan they encountered while on vacation. The bear, nicknamed “Winnie,” was known for its sweet disposition, which inspired Milne’s character. Christopher’s actual toy bear can now be seen in the Donnell Library Center Central Children's Room in New York City.

While the stories are memorable, it’s the illustrations by E.H. Shepherd, who also illustrated Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows, which probably turned the books into classics.

Pooh is so popular that the books have been translated into numerous languages, including the Latin version, Winnie ille Pu, which was the first foreign-language book to make the New York Times bestseller list in 1960. Pooh has leant his simple philosophy to a range of topics. Riffs on Pooh include:

Postmodern Pooh by Frederick Crews.

The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff.

Pooh and the Millennium by John Tyerman Williams.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

The Pooh Perplex by Frederick Crews.

Pooh and the Philosophers by John Tyerman Williams.

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