Saturday, February 14, 2009

Weekly Geeks (Winnie the Pooh)

Weekly Geeks this week asks about character names.

"For this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, we're going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names?

Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character's name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?

If you'd like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning."

I'll vary a bit from the actual assignment, because I can't think of any favorite children's book character names. I thought I'd use my answer to share the origin of Winnie the Pooh's name, because it is such an odd character name. If I were really judging it, I'd say it's not a very good choice for a name. It doesn't really make any sense, and it shares a part of its name with a synonym for diaper contents. But, Winnie the Pooh has become such a beloved part of popular culture and children's literature, that the name transcends all judgment at this point. Here is Wikipedia's thorough explanation of how the name Pooh came about:

Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was the basis for the character Christopher Robin. His toys also lent their names to most of the other characters, except for Owl and Rabbit, who were probably based on real animals, and the Gopher character, who was added in the Disney version. Christopher Robin's toy bear is now on display at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library in New York.[1]

Christopher Milne had named his toy bear after Winnie, a bear which he often saw at London Zoo, and "Pooh", a swan they had met while on holiday. The bear cub was purchased from a hunter for $20 by Canadian Lieutenant Harry Colebourn in White River, Ontario, Canada, while en-route to England during the First World War. He named the bear "Winnie" after his hometown in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "Winnie" was surreptitiously brought to England with her owner, and gained unofficial recognition as a regimental mascot. Colebourn left Winnie at the London Zoo while he and his unit were in France; after the war she was officially donated to the zoo, as she had become a much loved attraction there.[2] Pooh the swan appears as a character in its own right in When We Were Very Young.

In the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh, Milne offers this explanation of why Winnie-the-Pooh is often called simply "Pooh": "But his arms were so stiff ... they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think - but I am not sure - that that is why he is always called Pooh."

We have two sets of Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner, one a grown up anthology that is Dad's personal copy (he'll share), and another lovely gift set of books from Nana that will be the bookworm's when he's ready for them. We pull them out now and then, but he can't sit through that much text yet. He does love to unpack the box of them! And the anthology made for wonderful reading to him when he was an infant.

Here's a review:

The World of Pooh: The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner (Pooh Original Edition) (Hardcover), by A. A. Milne. What can we say about Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner? If you don't have these wonderful collections of short stories in one form or another, go buy them. Besides being beautifully written, clever, and oh-so-cute, the Winnie the Pooh stories are extraordinarily quotable. (See the excerpt for one of my favorites). Also on our list to read: "When We Were Young," a prequel of poetry, and "Now We Are Six," a sequel.


"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh!' he whispered. 'Yes, Piglet?' 'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'"

Bookworm's interest at 15 months: When the bookworm was an infant, Daddy and I enjoyed reading this to him. Now he's a bit too squirmy for both this lovely compendium and the book set we have that separates each short story into a different children's book (with the same original illustrations). There is also a board book version available, but we haven't tried that one yet.

Parent's Peeve: How could I dare criticize Winnie the Pooh? We do prefer the classic versions to the Disney ones around here.


Dorte H said...

What a great and very informative post :)

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the story. I like lateral interpretations of the WG challenges!

gautami tripathy said...

Very interesting info. Liked reading.

Names and more names

Rikki said...

Very interesting post. Thanks!

Kim said...

I enjoyed reading this! I must say that while I love Winnie the Pooh, sadly, my last child out four would have nothing to do with him. When he was around 3 years old, he told me Pooh was "dumb"! Oh the sacrilege of it all! ;)
Have a great week.

Erika Lynn said...

great WG! I loved Winnie The Pooh as a child and think they are amazing stories that never seem to fade.