17 November, 2009

Book 31 - Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, or: "'I wonder why things have to change,' mumured Piglet."

When books like the (apparently) long-awaited sequel to the original Winnie-the-Pooh books are announced, I always hear a little tinkly bell in the air. Well, less of a tinkle, and more like the CHA-CHING of a cash register. The House at Pooh Corner ends with Pooh and Christopher Robin coming to realise the Christopher Robin is going to have to leave the wood: he's going away to school. It's a poignant moment, a goodbye to childhood, an excellent end to a sweet, funny and imaginative story. So why does there need to be another sequel by someone who isn't even the original author?

Because people will buy it, of course.

Title: Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009)

Author: David Benedictus

Why this book?
A Winnie-the-Pooh sequel! I couldn't not read it, no matter how cynical I was.

So what's it all about anyway?
Christopher Robin is home for the holidays, which kick off with a Welcum Back feast for him in the Hundred Acre Woods. There are various adventures with those old familiar characters: Owl gives a Spelling Bee, Rabbit conducts a Census, Piglet goes down a well during a drought, and Pooh goes on a search for honey (of course). There's also a new animal in the wood, an otter named Lottie who fancies herself to be bit above the others, but nevertheless joins in their adventures. Also she plays the mouth organ, which is kind of cool.

The Good and the Bad
I think I can best explain the Bad by quoting one review I read of the book:

"...this isn't more of the same, this is less. ... Although not as poetic or as heroic, lacking sharp wit or the real emotions of love and regret of the originals, this faint shadow will sell thousands of copies because today we always want more."
- Kerry White, 2009. 'In which a reader gets a bit hot and bothered'. Magpies, Vol. 24

And the Good? Well, it's not Disney. Can I just go off on a slight tangent here and say fuck you, Disney, Heffalumps are not meant to be real what the actual fuck is wrong with you. David Benedicus at least understands that much.

So, should I read it or what?
For kids who love Winnie-the-Pooh, this book gets a pass. For adults looking to reminisce, I'd say stick to the originals.


Sadako said...

Oh I HATE these inspired by books. I found out that someone did that with Harriet the Spy and it's SO awful--I read the first few pages. It's just so not Harriet.

Sadako said...

Aw, no update? :(

HelenB said...

It's coming! Watch this space :)

Sadako said...

Heh, will do. I love your book reviews--you make me aware of so many great books.

Katie Edwards said...

The impression I got of this book was that the author tried too hard to set it in the correct time and place in the real world, stuffing it full of references to things like gramophones and shortbread in tins with Edinburgh Castle on the lid, things that have no place in the timeless Hundred Acre Wood.

HelenB said...

Exactly, Katie - all those real-world connections sort of ruined the fantasy of Hundred Acre Wood, or that's how it seemed to me.