Mr. Pooh the Bear

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Finally, I am writing about a recent book read. So many times I have meant to do so, but have always dropped the ball. “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. A. Milne with decorations by Ernest H. Shepard, first copyrighted in 1926, is certainly a well known work.

As a small child I had the Pooh books read to me and a few years ago I picked up a Japanese pocket-sized copy and gave it a quick read through. Recent Pooh-related conversations inspired me to read it again.

Milne’s style is certainly quite eccentric, which would probably make it a slower read for some, but recently I seem drawn to unconventional writing, so it was very easy to read this during short train rides. One peculiarity is his penchant for capitalizing certain words.

The first instance is in the quote, “What about Us?” where it seems done for emphasis, but the word is italicized which would seem to be for emphasis. A bit odd. Next is “… then he sang a Complaining Song.”, as if Complaining Song were a proper name of something. Strangely enough I am amused by this quirk, but it sometimes seems patternless.

Milne’s writes as if a narrator is telling stories about a boy and his toys to that very same boy, who is present and hence, also sometimes is involved in the narration. Storytelling attempts to mimic talking (and thinking) like a child; however, at some points I started to feel like it was satiring. So, I started to wonder how easy it would be for small children to follow it. Perhaps it would be like the Muppet Show, where kids laugh at the wacky antics and colorful puppets and adults snicker at the sarcastic wit.

Surprising to me was how many details I did not recall at all, having read it not so long ago. For example, Pooh was originally the name of a swan, Piglet’s grandfather was Trespassers William, Pooh may have discovered the East Pole, and he created a couple boats which were named The Floating Bear and The Brain of Pooh. Also, according to the traditional artwork, Rabbit and Owl look very much like real animals, very different to the Disney images. Rabbit actually looks very much like something out of a Beatrix Potter work.

Since the book was published in Japan, certain keywords have equivalent Japanese written above them. A few of them will be handy to add to my vocabulary. My hope is to eventually be able to speak Japanese with as much flavor as I do English. Being able to say things like ‘stumped’ or ‘dug into’ naturally should have value.

Overall, I found this a fun read and want to find Japanese pocket versions of the remaining books. I’ll leave you with one of the many fun pieces of prose that really entertain me.

Christopher Robin was sitting outside his door, putting on his Big Boots. As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced (シャンとする) himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.

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3 Responses to “Mr. Pooh the Bear”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    I love Pooh. He is a perennial favorite.

  2. びっくり Says:

    I forgot to explain the title. In Japan Winnie the Pooh is formally, Kuma no Puu-san. Translating software might turn that into Mr. Pooh the Bear. Most people just call him Puu-san, which always makes me think of Viet Nam, because in war movies they always talk about Pusan. When I say Winnie the Pooh, I am met with blank looks.

  3. titus2woman Says:

    LOL @ your comment! I enjoy Pooh, but my darling does NOT!!! Funny since he enjoys dialect so much~I guess this isn’t quite the same… (((((HUGS))))) sandi

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