Pooh and Pinkle Purr

September 7, 2011

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I didn’t anticipate that memories of being a child, reading, would flood over me when I pulled this A.A. Milne anthology from my bookcase this evening. I didn’t anticipate how familiar nearly all of the illustrations would be, as if I had last seen them yesterday. I didn’t remember that I had known and memorized Milne poems that weren’t even about Winnie-the-Pooh.

It takes me right back to our house on Main Street. I suppose when I was a kid I had individual volumes (and they’re probably in a box at my parents’ house). I don’t really remember the vessels, I just remember the content. Sitting on the hassock next to the window that looked out on the front porch, absorbing Winnie-the-Pooh.

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I didn’t remember how much there is. Granted, the book I have now is set in a pretty large point size. Nevertheless, it’s a big book! Stories and poems, and so many wonderful illustrations. E.H. Shepard must have tossed off these watercolors like it was nothing in order to be so prolific.

I guess this makes the case for paper books sticking around, a question about which I’ve thus far been ambivalent. I can’t imagine that I’d be having these waves of nostalgia if I had looked at the stories on an iPad. I’ve “read” a Peter Rabbit story on the iPad, and sure, it’s cute that you can tap on things to make them jump or squeak, but I think it’s a novelty that detracts from consuming the words and feasting on the illustrations. I don’t think forty years later I’d be sitting here thinking, “Gosh, those were the days when I touched Peter’s ear and it wiggled.” Or, I’d remember that I could touch Peter’s ear to make it wiggle and not much else.

Leafing through this Milne anthology, I was transported. And it became immediately obvious that I know what book I’m going to read next.

     For a long time they looked at the river beneath them, saying nothing, and the river said nothing too, for it felt very quiet and peaceful on this summer afternoon.
     “Tigger is all right really,” said Piglet lazily.
     “Of course he is,” said Christopher Robin.
     “Everybody is really,” said Pooh. “That’s what I think,” said Pooh. “But I don’t suppose I”m right,” he said.
     “Of course you are,” said Christopher Robin.

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(The Complete Tales & Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne, Decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, Dutton Children’s Books, 1996, 1997)

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