Some stories just get better with time. Winnie-the-Pooh is just such a story, having aged well in its 80 years. David Benedictus and Mark Burgess have taken over the classic tales from A. A. Milne with Return to the Hundred Acre Wood.
The new book follows the style of other Pooh books, with multiple adventures set in one summer. After 80 "Hundred Acre Wood Years," Christopher Robin has returned from school, allowing Pooh and friends to embark on adventures. During a harsh drought, Piglet must descend into an old well to refresh the rest of the forest. Pooh searches for the missing Honey Bees. One day, a new animal washes onto the riverbank, a dapper otter named Lottie. A fiery cricket game takes place, along with a few other tales.
I've always considered the Winnie-the-Pooh stories timeless. I know my mom read them as a little girl, I read them, and I hope my children will read them too. Benedictus should not have mentioned the 80-year lapse. Though it was allowable in the introduction, mentioning it repeatedly in the story reminds the reader that Milne isn't the author. Winnie-the-Pooh is unique because Christopher Robin will stay with Pooh forever. I don't want Christopher Robin to grow up, nor do I want to lose the sweetness and innocence of Pooh and friends. Benedictus' story lacks the charm, warmth and adolescent kindness we've come to expect. However, Burgess' illustrations are amazing as they re-create the atmosphere of the Hundred Acre Wood.
Milne wrote the series so everyday happenings, like finding Piglet, were major events, as they would be to a 5- or 6-year-old. Unfortunately, Benedictus made his plots too grownup. Lottie the Otter is a distraction that feels like little more than a filler. I guess the new Pooh's honey just isn't as sweet on the tongue, but Milne's Pooh will be sweet forever and always.
William Harvey is in the eighth grade at Liberty Middle School in Tampa.