Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #266

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh by Kathryn Aalto, 2015

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2016-04-01

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh cover

I picked up “The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh”, expecting it to be lightweight and quick to read, but instead I became enchanted and deeply engaged. The author, Kathryn Aalto, is a former Pacific Northwest resident (she taught at Western Washington University and Everett Community College) who now lives in England.

Almost any list of the best English books for children will include “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926) and “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928) by A. A. Milne. Much of the inspiration for the places in these books comes from real places in the Ashdown Forest, southeast of London, and from the nearby farm where Milne and his family—including his son Christopher Robin—lived.

After setting the stage with a biography of Milne and of the illustrator, E. H. Shepard, author Aalto gives a detailed review of the story elements as they relate to real places. Fortunately, these places have been little changed in 90 years: “There are no overt signs pronouncing your arrival in Pooh Country. There are no bright lights or billboards, no £1 carnival rides, no inflatable Eeyores, Owls, or Roos rising and falling in dramatic flair.”

The last third of the book is essentially a field guide to the Ashdown Forest, including its natural and cultural history. One thing you learn is that despite the name, there are no ash trees, and much of the land is not forested, but it is a place of considerable biodiversity despite much human intervention over many centuries.

Excerpted from the Spring 2016 Arboretum Bulletin.

Keywords: Ferns, Reviews

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