Lingua Mea Vita


BBC Book Challenge — Winnie the Pooh

Couple things:

  1. I read A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh as my next BBC Book Challenge book because I needed something light to read after the intense lovefest that was Love in the Time of Cholera.
  2. It was also free on iBooks.
  3. I should go through these books a little faster if I’m going to finish by the end of the year. I’m a little distracted by writing projects (which is another blog post).

SUMMARY

It is pretty difficult to summarize Winnie the Pooh. It really is a series of short stories involving all of your favorite characters from the 100 Acre Wood. The chapters are titled in a way that gives away the ending to the story (Piglet Meets a Heffalump, Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh finds One). The stories are cute and short and an easy read.

WHY THIS BOOK IS RELEVANT

Winnie the Pooh has been translated into a ton of languages (even Latin) and it is one of the few children’s books on the BBC Challenge list, but what is so special about a fat, dumb bear who craves honey?

What makes Winnie the Pooh so special isn’t Pooh himself, but the cast of characters. It’s one of the first children’s books where there are multiple characters with vastly different personality types, acknowledging that children (and adults) can be very different from each other. With characters so different, the reader can identify their own personality within the group, making them feel special and holding a certain character special in their heart.

What do I mean? Well, let’s compare the 100 Acre Wood to a group that many tweens found character-identity with when I was a kid, the Spice Girls:

(stay with me here)

Both groups involve very distinct characters that the reader (or tween) was supposed to identify with and share an affinity for. Oddly enough, a lot of the personality types are the same (which relates to the archetypes mentioned in The Tao of Pooh, also a good read):

Pooh = Ginger
Ginger was clearly the ringleader of the Spice Girls. The most outspoken, the most iconic, and the group pretty much fell apart without her. Same goes for Pooh, he’s not necessarily outspoken, but he does have a kind of…sassy…quality in the book, like he’s pretending to be dumber than he is to mock everyone. And Pooh is clearly the glue that keeps the 100 Acre Wood together, without him…there is no story.

Piglet = Baby
Piglet was the oft scared, innocent one. And while Baby Spice’s innocence was probably more about selling that creepy, sexy little girl Lolita thing, her given personality works best coincides with Piglet.

Tigger = Scary
Tigger was the perkiest, happiest and and the most unbridled energy. Scary Spice was the smiliest, most energetic and had the most unbridled hair. Though her name was Scary Spice, she seemed to have the happiest, most positive energy of the bunch, and same with Tigger. And come on, look at Scary Spice’s pants.

Roo = Sporty
Probably the weakest argument. Sporty Spice was clearly athletic, and Roo was young, and energetic (but not to the point of near insanity like Tigger). I’d say the same about Sporty. Energetic, but not over the top like Scary could be at times. This energy translates to sportiness, I suppose.

Eeyore = Posh
The most obvious of the bunch. Posh never smiles.  Eeyore is always in desperate need of Lithium. Eeyore’s got it all, beautiful surroundings, loving friends, but is always so depressed. Posh also has it all, successful career, great eye for fashion and design, beautiful, healthy kids, David Beckham, and never smiles.

Of course there are a few Pooh characters I left out like Rabbit and Owl. But they just didn’t fit; there wasn’t a Bitch Spice or an Old Spice (but the latter would’ve been great).

But what about Christopher Robin?

I think the animals of the 100 Acre Wood were manifestations of different aspects of Christopher Robin’s personality (A.A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh about his son Christopher and how he played with his stuffed animal toys). So, put together, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Roo, and Eeyore (and the others) are Christopher Robin, like Ginger, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Posh are the Spice Girls.

The Spice Girls = Christopher Robin.

So when that music journalist gave the Spice Girls their nicknames, had he just finished reading Winnie the Pooh? Probably not. But Pooh did set the precedent for reader-character identification in literature, and clearly, it extends beyond what you read. For Sex and the City fans, how many have defined yourself as a Carrie or a Charlotte? Or a John or a Ringo for Beatles fans?

Humans love to identify themselves, and Winnie the Pooh just made it easier.

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2 Comments so far
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Second only to Mickey Mouse in popularity, Winnie the Pooh actually got his start outside the Disney empire as a series of books by author A.A. Picture Books for Children

Comment by Picture Books for Children

I guess I need to read Winnie the Pooh again, I didn’t know it was so deep

Comment by linguameavita




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