Look Pooh's 90! Winnie-the-Pooh is celebrating his 90th birthday. MARION MCMULLEN lights the candles and brings the honey.
" AA Milne's famous bear is celebrating his 90th birthday this month and Pooh and his Hundred Acre Wood friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga and Roo are world famous.
Winnie-the-Pooh was based on Milne's son Christopher Robin and his stuffed toys and was an immediate success when it was published in 1926, selling 35,000 copies in Britain and 150,000 in America.
Pooh is now one of the most famous bears in literature and has become a film star loved by millions of children around the world.
Both Pooh and Queen Elizabeth reached 90 this year and Disney brought out a new adventure story which saw the bear of very little brain meet the Queen for the first time.
The illustrated story was called Winnie-The-Pooh And The Royal Birthday and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent narrated the audio video version. The story saw Pooh travel to Buckingham Palace with Christopher Robin, Piglet and Eeyore to deliver a special present to the 90-year-old monarch.
New book The Best Bear In All The World is also out this month, with illustrations by Mark Burgess. It features new character Penguin as well as old favourites. The newcomer is based on a photograph of AA Milne and his son Christopher playing with a penguin.
One of the book's four authors, Brian Sibley, said the original books were still appealing because of Milne's "brilliant dialogue", which he said was "crisp and sharp and sparkles with wit".
He said the books work on multiple levels, with children able to enjoy the simple plots and be rewarded by understanding what is happening far before the characters themselves do. But adults appreciate them because the characters reflect real life.
He said: "That's the brilliance of Milne as a playwright and dramatist in that what you get is characters that we all identify with - in our office, in our family.
"Wherever we are we all tend to know somebody who tends to be on the gloomy side like Eeyore, or a bit slow on the uptake like Pooh, or a bit nervous like Piglet, or bossy like Rabbit."
Such is the enduring love for Winnie-the-Pooh that it was recently named the UK's favourite children's book of the past 150 years. Disney has also created a "Thotful Spot" bench to mark 90 years of Pooh and it will be touring the UK, complete with a talking Winnie-the-Pooh statue that voices the bear's top life lessons.
Alan Alexander Milne graduated with a degree in mathematics from Cambridge in 1903 and started writing for Punch magazine.
He later became interested in writing plays, but his son provided the inspiration for his writing for children although he never read the stories to him.
Academic Catherine McCall believes part of the allure of the thoughtful little bear is that the stories pose life's big questions in a way children can understand.
Dr McCall, a patron of the Philosophy Foundation, said: "What I see in Pooh is really something the same as the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, which is 'how to live a good life.' "Pooh addresses the same thing, but the way that the Pooh-isms are, they are a lot more accessible than reading ancient philosophers."
She explained: "There's one (Pooh-ism) I think is absolutely amazing, and it's so simple: 'People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.'" Dr McCall believes the 2,000-year-old ideas explored in Pooh are still vital today. She said: "I think they will always be relevant to human beings as long as we are human, because they are deeply to do with the human condition.
"Every generation needs to discover for itself how to live the good life. We think that things like technology and modern items change life dramatically, but the really important things about being human don't really change."
Winnie-the-Pooh's musings on life are so poignant that around two-thirds of parents believe his advice on love and friendship are lessons that last a lifetime.
A recent survey of 1,000 British adults found a third had been influenced by the little bear's wisdom, and almost half introduced his teachings to their children.
The top life lessons learned from Winniethe-Pooh include: "A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference", "if the string breaks, try another piece of string" and "the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you".
As AA Milne once said: "A writer wants something more than money for his work. He wants permanence."
Tigger pounces on Pooh in 1966 film Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger Too Winnie-the-Pooh and Penguin in new adventure The Best Bear in all the World Jim Broadbent, who narrates the audio-video version of this year's Winnie-The-Pooh And The Royal