Pooh crew live anew!
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.