Pooh crew live anew!

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment - BY AN­GELA KIVERSTEIN

ASPESHUL WEL­CUM back to Christo­pher Robin, home for the school hol­i­days in Re­turn to the Hun­dred Acre Wood (Eg­mont, £12.99), the au­tho­rised se­quel — by Jewish old Eto­nian and drama­tiser of the Milne books, David Bene­dic­tus — to The House at Pooh Cor­ner.

Like the Bear him­self, the new book is Faith­ful to the Last. Bene­dic­tus is at his most Milne-like in the par­tic­u­larised de­scrip­tions of food and in com­pos­ing new hums of Pooh, com­mem­o­rat­ing such mo­ments as the ar­rival of a Haughty New An­i­mal, Lot­tie the Ot­ter. But, sorry, Lot­tie, you can’t quite win away our hearts from Bene­dic­tus’s per­fect rendis­shuns of the orig­i­nal Pooh, Wol, Tigger et al. Poor Eey­ore is still a hanger-on suf­fer­ing from ter­ri­bly low self-es­teem (but he does have a finest hour in this book); Piglet has dis­cov­ered a sur­pris­ing abil­ity to pun and Christo­pher Robin has be­come nu­mer­ate, but his spell­ing re­mains er­ratic.

There are enough ref­er­ences to the orig­i­nal books to sat­isfy afi­cionadi, but Bene­dic­tus makes this book his own, with so many in­ge­nious and Ab­so­lutely Right de­tails — such as a sign say­ing “spell­ing bee, all wel­cum”, or Kanga’s sug­ges­tion that in the Hun­dred Acre Wood Test Match, she and Roo should play for Aus­tralia.

Mark Burgess, colourist for E. H. Shep­ard’s draw­ings in the Milne po­etry books, makes an im­pec­ca­ble job of his own il­lus­tra­tions. A treat for all ages, in­clud­ing adults. Also out this month is Knight Crew, by Nicky Singer (CB Edi­tions, £7.99). Teenage pas­sions are played out against a back­ground of grim es­tates, gang feuds and knife crime and told in au­then­tic street lan­guage. That’s the story on one level but, as the plot pro­gresses, it be­comes clear that some­thing deeper and more ex­traor­di­nary is go­ing on. To ex­plain would be to pre­empt the plea­sure of dis­cov­ery. Age 12 up­wards. Knight Crew is to be per­formed in a full-length op­er­atic ver­sion at Glyn­de­bourne next year.

When I First Held You by Mirik Snir (Kar-Ben,£7.99), has richly-coloured, an­i­mal il­lus­tra­tions by Eleyor Snir. So many smi­ley, sleepy an­i­mals and a sing-song rhythm should get the un­der-fives off to dream­land nicely.

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