Winnie the Pooh Turns 90, and Gets a New Penguin Friend Added to the Canon


Author Brian Sibley was asked to write a new addition to AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories for the (scientifically startling) 90th year of the comforting yet melancholic stuffed bear’s life. His piece comes as a part of an official sequel Milne’s work, to which four authors are contributing in total (others are: Paul Bright, Kate Saunders, and Jeanne Willis; each author is writing separate, seasonal stories, whose culmination is the upcoming book, The Best Bear in All the World, out October 6.) But the Guardian highlights something special about Sibley’s story: it introduces a new character into the world of Pooh:

As the Guardian notes, Milne himself had based Pooh off of a stuffed toy that his son, Christopher Robin Milne, owned; in conceiving a new character, Sibley looked toward photos of the real-life Christopher Robin for a new character design, in order to not break from tradition. (Characters like Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger, were all likewise inspired by toys Milne’s son owned.)

Sibley found that Milne was also in possession of a stuffed penguin who never became a part of the Hundred Acre Wood — perhaps for reasons of environmental validity. But, oh wait, right, the forest sees pigs, tigers and kangaroos commingling, so never mind that explanation.

In one picture featured in the Guardian, young Milne is seen playing with both the penguin and the bear that he played with alongside the bear who’d ultimately become Winnie the Pooh.

Sibley’s story is called “Winter: In Which Penguin Arrives in the Forest,” and is illustrated by Mark Burgess, who spoke of feeling especially liberated in getting to design this new character, while also attempting to capture the “spirit” of original illustrator EH Shepherd.

Sibley likewise spoke to the Guardian about capturing the style of Milne’s writing, and said:

What makes … these tales so memorable is their ability to work on two different levels: the child listener to the story always understands what is happening just before Pooh and the others do; while the adult reading to the child engages by recognising that, under their fur and feathers, the characters are just like people we know among our family, friends and colleagues.

Check out more illustrations featuring Pooh in the Telegraph.