He might be almost 90 years old in real terms, but Christopher Robin and his bear of very little brain are set to make a literary comeback after the estate of AA Milne agreed to authorise the first-ever official sequel to the much-loved children’s books.
Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by author David Benedictus picks up from the poignant ending of Milne’s last Pooh book, The House at Pooh Corner, in which Christopher Robin is growing up and heading away to school. “Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred,” he tells the bear, and they leave together.
The estates of Milne and EH Shepard, who provided the simple but enduring illustrations for the books, said they had been searching for a sequel that would do justice to the original stories for “a good many years”.
Although Disney has franchised the characters in a number of films, there has not previously been an authorised literary sequel to Milne’s books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, first published in 1926 and 1928. Milne wrote the books for his son Christopher Robin, naming Pooh after his teddy bear.
The sequel, to be published by Egmont Publishing in Britain and Penguin imprint Dutton Children’s Books in the US, is due out on 5 October, illustrated by Mark Burgess. Benedictus, who is familiar with the world of Winnie the Pooh after adapting and producing audio versions of the books starring Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and Jane Horrocks, did not reveal any more details, but promised that the book would both “complement and maintain Milne’s idea that whatever happens, a little boy and his bear will always be playing”.
Michael Brown, chairman of Pooh Properties, which manages the affairs of the Milne and Shepard estates, said the sequel would capture “the spirit and quality” of the original books.
Benedictus said all Milne’s well-loved characters, from Tigger to Eeyore, would be making an appearance in his sequel, which features 10 stories and around 150 illustrations. The stories retain their original 1920s setting.
If it really is a sequel that does the originals justice, I’ll be singing and dancing down the streets! *loves Winnie-ther-Pooh*