When We Were Very Young

When We Were Very Young

When I was in college some friends gave me a lovely box set that contained two books: The World of Pooh: The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner and The World of Christopher Robin: The Complete When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. The first is of course the complete collection of all of A.A. Milne’s Pooh stories. The second is a collection of his delightful poetry for children. Both are illustrated by the incomparable E.H. Shepard. 

Pooh has long been a favorite in our house; but it’s only recently that we’ve dipped our toes into the World of Christopher Robin. Now it is slightly edging out Pooh for most requested book at bedtime for both girls. “I want poems,” Bella says.

It took me a while to get into the poetry but now that we’ve been reading it a while I find that certain verses stick with me throughout the day:

What has she got in that brown little head?
Wonderful thoughts which can never be said.
What has she got in that firm little fist of hers?
Somebody’s thumb, and it feels like Christopher’s

There are other delightful characters to meet who don’t appear in the Pooh stories. One of my favorites:

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.

Pooh does make an occasional appearance:

“Let’s frighten the dragons ,” I said to Pooh.
“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.
I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!
Silly old dragons!”—and off they flew.
“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,
“I’m never afraid with you.”

Then there’s the one that Bella calls the spider poem. ( It confused me the first time she asked for it: “You mean beetle?” I ask now. “Oh yes, beetle.”

I found a little beetle, so that Beetle was his name,
And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same.

There are kings and queens and princes. Sailors and knights, bears and rabbits and mice….

There are lions and roaring tigers, and enormous camels and things,
There are biffalo-buffalo-bisons, and a great big bear with wings,
There’s a sort of a tiny potamus, and a tiny nosserus too—
But I gave buns to the elephant when I went down to the Zoo!

I could go on all night; but I need to put Ben to bed. Still, I think you get the idea. You want your kids to be lifelong poetry lovers? Buy this and a volume of nursery rhymes and you’re off to a flying start.

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