The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders and Mark Burgess
|The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders and Mark Burgess|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: An authorised sequel, this is Milne-esque but missing some sweetness (or honey)|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 128||Date: October 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Winnie the Pooh is a classic, and sometimes classics should be left untouched by the hands of time. After all, can you improve on perfection? With no longer with us, there are limited options for continuing the stories of Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit and the gang, but in this authorised sequel the show must and indeed does go on, with four new tales about the bear with very little brain.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus, which continued the stories from the original books, and was beautifully illustrated (well, they call it decorated) by Mark Burgess. I found both the writing and decorations authentic and reminiscent of my childhood, and since Burgess is back on board for this new release, we'll start there. The pages of The Best Bear in All the World are scattered with lovely, full colour pictures, some taking over a full page, others just dotted around the paragraphs. These pictures really bring the stories to life, and with the exception of Tigger (who seems to have faded while playing in the sun, coming out a mild yellow rather than a vibrant orange) I wouldn't change a thing.
There are four stories told within the book, and intriguingly each has been penned by a different author. They are set over the seasons, so when penguin appears it's winter (obviously!) but the ties at other times are looser, for example that exploring the river happens in summer, and the dragon's appearance in the autumn. The language within the stories has been thought through in detail, and the phrasing fits with what you would expect from previous jaunts to the Hundred Acre Wood. I'm torn more over the stories themselves. They're…..fine. And fine is nice and good and pleasant, but I just didn't find them as magical as the originals or the return mentioned above. The stories just needed to be a little sweeter. A dollop of honey might help.
I enjoyed meeting the new characters, especially penguin. And if you struggle with the concept of a penguin in a wood, just read the author explanation at the end, and all will become clear. But, somehow the charm of the original Pooh had lost its shine a little, and the tone seemed just a fraction off. It's a very good attempt and young Pooh fans I'm sure will relish it, but for us oldies who read and re-read the originals until we knew them by heart, this one doesn't seem worthy of quite the same devotion. It reads as true Milne-style, but the difference between Milne-style and genuine Milne is on a par with the difference between Greek-style and genuine Greek yogurt. And that is subtle but important, as even a bear of very little brain would understand (before or after he stirs in some much needed honey).
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. For true Pooh fans, the wonderful Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall is a treat to read.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders and Mark Burgess at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders and Mark Burgess at Amazon.com.
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