This past Sunday marked an important birthday for one of the most beloved characters in the history of children’s literature. Winnie the Pooh. And although he didn’t appear in print until 1926, the actual stuffed animal that inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories is 90 years old. People sent the real Winnie the Pooh a birthday card via the New York Public Library. I’ll be honest: I was a little disappointed that I was too old to send a card. I am firm in my belief that Winnie the Pooh is such a lasting character because he can’t be fully appreciated until you’ve grown up. Only then can you realize all the life lessons the silly old bear has given you.
1. Positive Thinking. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” (The House at Pooh Corner, p. 11) Although Eeyore is generally known as the gloomy one, even he can look on the bright side occasionally.
2. Empathy. “What about me?” said Pooh sadly. “I suppose I shan’t be useful?” “Never mind, Pooh,” said Piglet comfortingly. “Another time, perhaps.” (Winnie the Pooh, p. 95) Piglet, being a Very Small Animal, acutely understands what it is like to feel useless.
3. Gratitude. But Eeyore wasn’t listening. He was taking the balloon out, and putting it back again, as happy as could be… (Winnie the Pooh, p. 89) It doesn’t matter to Eeyore that Piglet meant to give him an inflated balloon and Pooh meant to give him a pot of honey for his birthday and what he got was a popped balloon and an empty pot. He enjoys his gifts because his friends thought to give them to him.
4. Creative Problem Solving. In the very first story of the very first book we learn about Pooh’s Passion for Honey. (We also learn that capitalizing words in the middle of the sentence makes them serve two purposes; to stand out as a Very Important Idea and to define A. A. Milne’s Narrative Voice.) In Pooh’s quest for honey, the bees have become suspicious of him, and thus he needs a new plan that will allow him to fly under the radar and stealthily take the honey. He decides on attaching himself to a balloon. But a blue balloon or a green balloon?
He explains the benefit of each to Christopher Robin: “When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming. Now, if you have a green balloon, they might think you were only part of the tree and not notice you, and if you have a blue balloon, they might think you were only part of the sky and not notice you.” (Winnie The Pooh, p. 13)
Posted by Elizabeth Browne