Winnie-the-Pooh at the New York Public Library

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For my daughter’s second birthday earlier this year, my mother gave her a copy of Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, written by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, and the winner of this year’s Caldecott Medal (awarded annually in the US for the most distinguished picture book for children). Flipping through the book quickly it seemed a bit ‘old’ for a two-year-old and I assumed we’d put it on the shelf for a few years, but to my surprise something about the book captivated my daughter, and we’ve gone through periods of reading it every single night before bed. I wasn’t at all familiar with the story behind how Winnie-the-Pooh acquired his name, and found myself moved by the story of a wartime veterinarian who adopted a young bear cub in Canada, then brought the bear along as his unit shipped out to England. Eventually, the bear, named Winnie, found a home at the London Zoo, where Christopher Robin Milne befriended her and then decided to name his own beloved stuffed bear Winnie. It’s a beautiful book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

With ‘Finding Winnie’ fresh on our minds, this past weekend while in Midtown we stopped into the main branch of the New York Public Library and made our way down to the Children’s Center. There, we found Christopher Robin Milne’s stuffed animals, including Winnie-the-Pooh himself. Freshly back from a year-long restoration effort, Pooh, who was purchased at Harrods in London in 1921 for Christopher Robin’s first birthday, is joined by Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and Piglet. Together, the animals all became characters the classic Pooh books that have delighted generations of children, and it feels special to see them up close and imagine a little boy, not so much older than my daughter is now, playing with these exact animals in the woods behind his home and inspiring his father to write tales of their adventures together.

While still I think a bit young for the full Winnie-the-Pooh, House at Pooh Corner, and other related tales, my daughter enjoyed looking Pooh and his friends, and I look forward to the day we can read the original stories and make another visit to the library to see the stuffed friends who helped bring these stories to life. For those already familiar with Pooh and his antics, a visit to the library would make a fun diversion when in the neighborhood. I can also attest that the Children’s Center is a cozy spot to read a book or two while waiting out the rain, as we did this past weekend.


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