Monday, 15 November 2010

A Book Review

I had originally intended to post a list of my favourite children’s books and explain where they fitted into my early choices of reading, but after a while the list had become so unwieldy I decided to forget the idea. Lists like that on the Internet are ten a penny so it would be a bit of a waste of time, instead I have decided it will be more fun to look at some of the books on my list and do a critical review of them, starting with Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie the Pooh is not actually a story as such but a set of linked short stories and poems written by A A Milne about his son Christopher Robin and his toy bear and other animals, real or of the stuffed variety. The bear whose real name is Edward Bear usually works under the unlikely alias of Winnie the Pooh.
Like all good books it contains a map inside the front cover which gives the reader a sense of location and can see where the action takes place and there is plenty of action. Expeditions, extreme weather, big game hunting, lost houses, missing persons, gambling, dangerous strangers and attempted murder. It was sheer luck that Eeyore could float.
The main character Pooh is not my favourite, he is an amiable bumbling character sure, allegedly lovable because of this, but he is stupid! We are introduced to him as he is being dragged downstairs, and although able to speak he never object to this treatment, which would be considered a refined form of torture by most nations and a clear abuse of his human and bear rights. Maybe he would suffer worse if he complained. After all, Christopher Robin, the Big CR, is a shadowy figure that comes and goes mysteriously throughout the action and is usually the final arbitrator in many situations, so he obviously wields some power over the other characters.

The smartest character amongst these animals is actually Piglet. He puts up a great cover as being small and helpless but he sees more than he lets on. In the case of the House at Pooh Corner, he instantly recognises what Eeyore has been attempting to build and persuades Pooh to use this 'pile of sticks' to build Eeyore a proper house. He knows that where Eeyore had built his, admittedly poor building standards, shack in the wrong place and planning permission was never given for that site. Piglet being pretty astute where legal matters were concerned, knew he would have have to pull it down anyway, so somehow contrived to steer Pooh to rebuild it on the plot shown in the original planning application.

Piglet is a strange animal I have never seen a piglet that has feet and paws, they normally have trotters, he has no snout but his nose tapers to a point. My personal opinion is that he is an alien, planted to investigate the Earth. This would also explain why such an intelligent character cannot read too well, he was not taught to read and write on this planet.

No pig, but an alien

The introduction of a scary new animal takes place when Tigger arrives one night and he soon livens up the otherwise drab life of poor little Roo. Kanga is one of those tyrannical mothers who cannot allow their baby to grow up and Tigger is a bit of a shock to her but under the Big CR's insistence she takes him in too and rules his life with a rod of iron exactly like she controls Roo. Unfortunately he breaks loose now and then and nearly succeeds in murdering Eeyore when he tries to drown him.
The main characters are all spending some time gambling on the outcome of sticks floating under a bridge, and the betting was getting dangerously high when they saw Eeyore floating by in the water. It was Piglet who had first realised it had been Tigger who had pushed Eeyore into the water, long before Tigger was persuaded to confess very reluctantly to the crime.

A clear case of bouncing with intent

Realising the plot had failed, Rabbit who is almost as devious as Christopher Robin persuades Pooh to finish the job with a large stone under the thin pretext that it will help him get ashore. Piglet is horrified by this and attempts to dissuade Pooh but to no avail. Miraculously Eeyore survives this second attempt and is able to climb ashore.
Tigger eventually gets off on a technicality when a kangaroo court forms on the riverside and they come to the conclusion that it was an accidental push.
Piglet is somewhat concerned that justice was not seen to be done, when he says afterwards rather uncertainly, ‘Tigger is all right really?’, obviously believing him to be a dangerous criminal and so testing the response of the others. I am not sure he is satisfied with the response but Christopher Robin overrules all the others so he has to keep quiet.
As a punishment for becoming too uppity, Christopher Robin arranges for Piglet to undergo a form of waterboarding by the not-to-be-argued-with Kanga when she gives him a severe bathing under the patently transparent pretext she thinks he is Roo. Christopher Robin arrives to see it is being done properly and pretends not ot know who Piglet is when he appeals to Christopher Robin to stop Kanga waterboarding him. He is finally let loose but it was obviously an object lesson from the Big CR to remind Piglet not to make any more waves.

All in all not really suitable for small children but I give it an 9 out of 10 for readability.


  1. You know, snafu, I always thought there was some mysterious, alien(or communistic)plot behind all children's books -- this confirms it. No wonder our generation turned out to be so wierd.

    Can't wait to read your expose of Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton and Authur Ransome!

  2. A wonderful review! Piglet may have been the clever one but Eeyore was my favourite, especially when it was his birthday. I can still recite some of the poems from, 'Now We Are Six', too. I understand that real Christopher Robin grew up to hate being associated with the books, which seems a terrible shame. x