Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

David Benedictus, Author, Mark Burgess, Illustrator , illus. by Mark Burgess. Dutton $19.99 (201p) ISBN 978-0-525-42160-3

Christopher Robin returns from boarding school (80 years later) in this authorized but largely forgettable third volume of stories about Pooh, Piglet and the denizens of Milne's famous forest. Missing is the charm of the first book, mediated by an adult narrator creating a tableau for his child's imaginative play with a coterie of stuffed friends. Like the first books, there are 10 stories, but they are aged up to reflect Christopher's new interests—the play here involves a spelling bee, cricket, the creation of a school, the use of a thesaurus, atlas, dictionary, etc. A new character, Lottie the Otter, joins Rabbit and Owl to make a trio of the sanctimonious. Even saintly Kanga—Kanga!—loses her patience with Roo. There are a few inspired moments, including Rabbit's ill-conceived plan to lure his Friends and Relations to participate in a census using carrots and shortbread. (Rabbit also gets the best line: “Happy may be all very well, Eeyore, but it doesn't butter any parsnips.”) Burgess's illustrations are serviceable and resemble the originals, but, again, topping Shepard's originals proves a tough act to follow. All ages. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/19/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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