By Maria Konnikova
An adult reflects on the valuable lessons of The Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland, and Winnie-the-Pooh.
My copy of Le Petit Prince looks like it has been through a natural disaster. Or two. The dust jacket is torn at every edge. What’s not torn is frayed. A piece of scotch tape holds together the é and r of Exupéry. The white background can’t really be called white anymore. And inside, little pencil markings lurk throughout the text (I would memorize passages when I was young), alongside evidence of attempted erasure—but you know how those old-school Number Two pencils are; all the erasers seem to do is leave things a little grayer than before. The book, in other words, has been well loved.
That’s not surprising. Most favorite children’s books are. But there’s one thing about mine that’s different: With the exception of those pesky eraser marks, the damage wasn’t sustained in childhood. Those are adult wounds.
The Little Prince is not alone to suffer that horrible fate: the designation of “children’s book” where it’s anything but, where it is actually far more worthy of an adult designation than many a so-called “adult” work. Leaving such books to childhood is a mistake of the worst kind. Fail to re-read them from a more mature standpoint and you’re almost guaranteed to miss what they’re all about.
To a child, The Little Prince is the story of a boy who falls from the sky, meets lots of funny people on his travels, and then returns to his star. But take a closer look and you find as clear a commentary on everything that’s wrong with modern life—and what can be done to fix it—as you would in the most biting social satire.
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Rare Winnie the Pooh memorabilia Photo: Rii Schroer
On the unveiling of a new plaque to mark Winnie-the-Pooh’s birthplace, Anoosh Chakelian examines the unlikely story of the bear’s origins.
A rags-to-riches story worthy of Alan Sugar was revealed earlier this month at the unveiling of a plaque to mark the place of Winnie-the-Pooh’s creation in a building tucked away in Acton, West London.
The Farnell factory, which manufactured Britain’s first teddy bears, was Pooh’s unlikely birthplace. Since the factory has since been demolished the plaque has been placed on The Elms, a Georgian house owned by the Farnell family.
The bear was one of a batch produced in 1921 and sent from silk merchant John Kirby Farnell’s factory to Harrods, where Daphne Milne, Christopher Robin’s mother, bought him for her son’s first birthday present.
Pooh spent the rest of his days flitting between the Milnes’ London home and Cotchford Farm in Hartfield, an area in East Sussex that inspired AA Milne’s Enchanted Place, Hundred Acre Wood, the House at Pooh Corner, and Pooh’s other favourite haunts.
Shirley Harrison,who last year wrote a biography of the original toy, The Life and Times of the Real Winnie-the-Pooh, and has lived in Hartfield, has been campaigning for a plaque to be placed somewhere in Pooh’s suburban homeland for years.
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Left, the Winnie the Pooh character from 2007, and the one from the movie opening Friday.
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s formula for freshening up old cartoon characters like Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Smurfs goes something like this: Reformulate them in 3-D, give them a skateboard and sunglasses, add some dance moves and inundate children and their nostalgic parents with advertising.
And it has worked with one very notable exception. Winnie the Pooh.
In 2007, the Walt Disney Company followed the blueprint, abandoning the character’s gentle hand-drawn look in favor of slick Pixar-style animation. Pooh got a scooter and a superhero outfit. Christopher Robin was jettisoned in favor of a 6-year-old tomboy named Darby.
As it turned out, nobody wanted to see Eeyore breakdance.
So Disney is re-introducing the classic Pooh characters across its empire, most notably in a new movie that arrives in theaters on Friday.
Children are loud, expensive and always getting into trouble. They can also be magical, as evidenced by this incredibly adorable young French girl breathlessly narrating the immortal story “Winnie the Pooh.”…