After reading through the marathon that was The Stand, I decided to switch gears and get into a book that was a little more on the lighter side, so I downloaded The House on Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne for my Kindle.
Aside from the relief of reading something that dealt very minimally with an apocalyptic world or death in any capacity, the book is extremely enjoyable on its own and I would recommend it as a palette cleanser the next time you need one. It's short, at under 200 pages, and its 10 chapters mostly function isolated from one another so you can read a quick chapter each day, which is what I did.
I chose this book after listening to an episode of the Every Little Thing podcast in which they investigated the age of Winnie The Pooh. I'd always assumed that Pooh was a young child bear, but I can understand why people would hear his voice and imagine him to be an old man bear. This book was mentioned as source material for the definitive confirmation of Pooh's age, specifically referencing a portion of the final chapter of the book, titled "In Which Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There."
“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
“I promise,” he said.
During this chapter, the entire group of characters who inhabit the Hundred Acre Wood -- Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, everyone -- gather together to wish Christopher Robin goodbye. Although it's not explicitly stated, it's made obvious that he's leaving because he's starting school, which makes him around 5 years old, and would make Pooh around 4 years old.
I didn't need to read the whole book to learn that, since I listened to the podcast, but the guest on the show who mentioned this passage was effusive in her praise of this book's final chapter as a phenomenal piece of prose in its own right, so I wanted to check it out. And I do think that last chapter is truly great, though I think the time spent with the previous nine chapters certainly helps make it great. A lot of these episodic chapters are about small events, nothing events -- like Pooh inventing a game called Poohsticks, or Piglet being scared of Tigger's hopping -- but throughout, the writing is a complete joy to wade through. Milne holistically captures the imagination of a child, making the book simple enough to be read by a grade-school student, and clever enough to be revisited with enthusiasm by an adult. It's a deceptive type of writing that can deliver something heart-wrenchingly melancholy or knee-slappingly funny only moments after you'd been lulled into a narrative stupor.
“That’s my tablecloth,” said Pooh, as he began to unwind Tigger.
“I wondered what it was,” said Tigger.
“It goes on the table and you put things on it.”
"Then why did it try to bite me when I wasn't looking?"
"I don't think it did," said Pooh.
"It tried," said Tigger, "but I was too quick for it."
There are many passages where I found myself laughing out loud on the train, and several others that are touching and memorable in other ways. After so many such moments, the departure of Christopher Robin in the final chapter of the book is sad and joyful all in one, with memorable imagery which will inspire re-reads in the future. It's an incredibly easy book to fall in love with on first read.
The House on Pooh Corner is available as an IRL book and an e-book on Amazon. It's also available on Audible; if you click this link, you can get a free trial of Audible that includes two free audiobooks. Even if you cancel your trial, you'll get to keep these two books. Also: clicking on any of the Amazon links in this post, and purchasing something from them, provides a small percentage kickback to the author of the blog you just read.