A.A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh, the first book of several featuring the beloved bear and his friends, in 1926. I'm sure you know many of the stories: when Pooh pretends to be a raincloud, when he hunts woozles, when he rescues Piglet from a flood. Through the books and especially the famous Disney adaptations, these adventures feel as much a part of childhood as, well, a pencil.
But some of the stories are less famous than others. For example, I remember Pooh rescuing Piglet from the flood, but I completely forgot that Christopher Robin throws a party afterwards, to celebrate Pooh's brave deed. It's at the end of Winnie-the-Pooh, the last story before we must say goodbye to our new friends. But before we all part ways, Christopher Robin presents Pooh with a gift:
When Pooh saw what [the gift] was, he nearly fell down, he was so pleased. It was a Special Pencil Case. There were pencils in it marked "B" for Bear, and pencils marked "HB" for Helping Bear, and pencils marked "BB" for Brave Bear*. There was a knife for sharpening the pencils, and india-rubber for rubbing out anything which you had spelt wrong, and a ruler for ruling lines for the words to walk on, and inches marked on the ruler in case you wanted to know how many inches anything was, and Blue Pencils and Red Pencils and Green Pencils for saying special things in blue and red and green. And all these lovely things were in little pockets of their own in a Special Case which shut with a click when you clicked it. And they were all for Pooh.
A Special Pencil Case! I actually owe this installment of Pencils in Literature to two lovely customers who stopped by the shop a week ago, and asked why we didn't have the Winnie-the-Pooh quote on our walls. I confess I had no idea what they were talking about at first. Needless to say, I immediately looked up the reference and immediately fell in love with this passage. In fact, I'm going to curl up with a cup of honeyed tea and reread the whole book on my next day off.
Were you familiar with this quotation? What's your favorite Winnie-the-Pooh memory?
[About couple months ago, Jim from General's Pencil Co just happened to send us a few of these old Disney collaboration pencils featuring Pooh's honeybees. They match the linen cover of the book.]
*Before the advent of the pencil grading scale as we currently know it, 2B pencils were referred to as "BB" pencils. Or, as I shall henceforth be calling it, Brave Bear pencils.