Monday, June 1, 2009

When We Were Very Young

Milne, A.A. 1924. When We Were Very Young. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard.

I love A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and House At Pooh Corner. And while these two poetry books, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, can never even come close to the magic of those other books, the all-Pooh-and-friends books, I enjoy them nonetheless. Why? Because Milne can have a way with words. A way of saying the very ordinary in a memorable, sometimes magical way. There's something sentimental about them without being overly sentimental. If that makes any sense at all. Included in this first poetry book, we see "Buckingham Palace," "Lines and Squares," "Independence," "Politeness," "Missing," "Teddy Bear," and "Halfway Down." These are the highlights...for me...the best of the best.

To me, there's no denying the perfection of pieces like "Teddy Bear" and "Halfway Down."

Here's how Teddy Bear starts off:

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our teddy bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.

Here's how Halfway Down starts off:

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
Other stair
Quite like
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
I always

Have you read When We Were Very Young? Have you read it recently? Do you have a favorite poem or two from it? If you haven't read it yet, you should! Of course, the two Pooh books are most important to read if you haven't read any Milne, but still.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers


  1. I actually have NOT read this. I tried once. Really, I did. I figured I should give it another go before Bookworm1 ages to the point where this book is more relevant to him. At any rate, it's a good pick and I'm glad you shared it!

  2. I love Milne! I feel like I came to love him late in the game (really, in the past year) and have to make up for lost time.