Pooh For Beginners: Walt Disney’s THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH

Walt Disney's Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh

(c) Disney

This is a movie that any parent but a grumpy old Eeyore can get behind wholeheartedly.  It’s actually a collection of three classic shorts, including the 1968 Academy Award winner for Best Cartoon Short Subject, “Winnie The Pooh And The Blustery Day,” as well as “Winnie The Pooh And The Honey Tree” and “Winnie The Pooh And Tigger Too.”  Though the shorts are bound together in what feels like a seamless movie, there are very convenient stopping and starting points.  In the first entry, Pooh tries to get his paws on some honey by floating up to a beehive using a balloon, and later gets stuck in the door to Rabbit’s house on account of eating too much.  “The Blustery Day” includes a visit by the amiable Pooh and timid pal Piglet to see the loquacious Owl, and introduces Tigger, the enthusiastic and bouncy tiger who, like CURIOUS GEORGE (another evergreen movie and book series), has a lot in common with most preschool boys.  The final entry, “…And Tigger Too,” is about Rabbit trying to temporarily lose Tigger to “take the bounce out of him,” only for Tigger to prove indispensable by finding Rabbit and the others when they get lost.  The story is both entertaining and a lesson — without feeling like one — in the importance of accepting someone who’s new and different.

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh - Tigger

(c) Disney

The animation is gorgeous and takes its inspiration from the charming Ernest Shepard illustrations in A.A. Milne’s beloved books:  watching it is apt to make you and your preschooler feel as if you jumped right into the books.  The voice talent is impeccably cast:  Sebastian Cabot is the grandfatherly narrator, Sterling Holloway makes an inimitable Pooh, John Fielder is a perfect stammering Piglet, and Paul Winchell is an unforgettable Tigger.  The pacing is leisurely, but not slow enough that it ever gets boring, and there’s just enough story to occupy preschoolers without confusing them, yet still be engaging to grown-ups.  The songs, by the Sherman brothers of MARY POPPINS fame, are delightful, each and every one — and who can forget the infectiously catchy gem “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers?”  (“Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs!”).  Apologies if you now can’t get it out of your head the rest of the day.

The whole experience is the animated equivalent of a warm cuddle, without the scares of some Disney fare (no one is orphaned, and though Kanga is a single mom for no apparent reason, one-parent families may find that a nice touch).  It manages to be sweet without slipping into the saccharine.  It’s so ideal for kids in the pre-K through 2nd grade age groups, you may want to own it:  it bears (pun-intended) nearly infinite repeating.

THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH is arguably superior in story and animation to the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet features that have followed in recent years (though they are enjoyable), as well as the kind of bland if harmless Disney channel TV series MY FRIENDS TIGGER AND POOH.

Winnie The Pooh Book

(c) Puffin Modern Classics

It’s also a great way to segue into reading aloud the original  Winnie the Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner classic books by A.A. Milne, with those previously mentioned charming illustrations by Ernest Shepard.   And if you feel they’re a bit advanced for the youngest in your house, you can start with the Disney book version of the movie.  My kids preferred that to the originals — though ScreenMom is an unabashed fan of Milne’s whimsical prose and the classic, pre-Disney-fied Pooh characters’ look.

P.S.:  An additional short included on DVD is WINNIE THE POOH AND A DAY FOR EEYORE, and makes a pleasant follow-up once you’ve created a Pooh fan.

Adults Should Know:  This movie can be easily broken up into smaller chunks for shorter viewing sessions because it’s really three shorts strung together.  That makes it easy viewing for the smaller set, who may not have the attention to sit for longer periods.

Say & Do:  Talk about what a grand thing it is that Piglet is willing to give up his own house when owl loses his in a storm.  Also chat about how Tigger is new and different, and how he doesn’t always know when to stop bouncing, but when Rabbit tries to deliberately lose Tigger to take the bounce out if him, Rabbit winds up getting lost and needing Tigger’s help.  What does this say about how we need different kinds of people with different personalities and skills?  Read the original Winnie The Pooh books together.

THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH (1977, but with portions made in 1966,1968, 1974).  Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, John Lounsbery, based on the books written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard; story by Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Vance Gerry, Xavier Atencio, Ken Anderson, Julius Svendsen, Ted Berman, Eric Cleworth, “Blustery Day” story supervision by Winston Hibler, music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.  With Sterling Holloway, John Fielder, Paul Winchell, Sebastian Cabot.

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