Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh

How does a real life forest become the enchanted world that is at the heart in one of the most beloved children's stories of all time?

The path between the fiction and reality is not always direct. It's complicated and that's what makes the creative process so intriguing. I love the quote that appears in the dedication of the book I am about to review: "To the walkers of the world, who know that the beauty is in the journey."

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the One Hundred Acre Wood begins with a look at the forces that shaped the career of writer A.A. Milne; notably a happy childhood and a close relationship with his father.

If there were any surprises in the early pages of the book, it was the degree of freedom the A.A. Milne and his brother Ken were given as very young children to explore the natural world around them. Children these days so rarely enjoy such unsupervised play outdoors, which is really a rather sad commentary on modern society.

That in his day Milne was such a successful writer was also a bit of a surprise for me too. Most of his other writing seems to be largely forgotten. Odd that a children's book that marked a departure for the well known humorist, is the thing for which he is best remembered.

Taken from The natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh © Copyright 2015 by Kathryn Aalto. All right reserved. Published by Timber Press, Portland, OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

The first section of the book also touches on the life of illustrator E.H. Shepard and the close collaboration between writer and artist that can be credited for Winnie-the-Pooh's enduring appeal.

Next the book takes the reader on a nostalgic journey that explores the real life stories and locations that inspired the One Hundred Acre Wood and the creatures who live there. By way of example; there is the more than two hundred year old black walnut that was the inspiration for Pooh's house, the real Poohsticks Bridge and cluster of trees that formed the basis for the Enchanted Place where Pooh says a final goodbye to Christopher Robin.

The final chapter of the book provides a visitor's guide to the plants, animals and places in the real forest that became the fictional One Hundred Acre Wood. Thirty miles south of London, the Ashdown Forest is a landscape of heath and woodland that sat on the doorstep of Milne's home, Cotchford Farm.

                Taken from The natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh © Copyright 2015 by Kathryn Aalto. All right reserved. Published by Timber Press, Portland, OR. Used by permission of the publisher.

If you love the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, you'll delight in the book's mix of illustrations by E.H. Shepard, historic pictures and the author's photographs of present day locations in the Ashdown Forest key to the stories.

I don't think you have to be a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh however, to want to read this book. In one of the classic stories, Pooh reasons, "If I plant a honeycomb outside my house, then it will grow up into a beehive."

All you really need to find interest in The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the One Hundred Acre Wood is a love for this kind of magical thinking.

"Sometimes', said Pooh,' The smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
                                                                                                                  A.A. Milne

The Book at a Glance:
Book Authors: Kathryn Aalto
Publisher: Timber Press
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 308 pp.
Images: 178 color photos, 21 color illustrations

Thomas Allen & Sons has given me a review copy of the new book: The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the One Hundred Acre Wood . I am going to give it away to one lucky reader.

Leave a comment if you would like to be included in the book draw. The draw will remain open for the next 7 days.

If you are not a blogger, you can enter to win on the Three Dogs in a Garden Facebook page. You are also welcome to send me a brief email with your entry to the draw.

Please, please make sure there is a way for me to track down your email address should your name be drawn. 

About the author:

Kathryn Aalto is a writer, landscape designer, historian and speaker. Teaching literature, designing gardens and writing about the natural world have been the focus of her most recent work. Kathryn grew up in California, but presently resides with her family in Devon, England. Among the many societies and associations, Kathryn is a member of the Garden Writers Association, the Society of Garden Designers and the Garden History Society. The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk through the Forest that Inspired the One Hundred Acre Wood is her second book. To learn more, please visit the author's website:

More Information and Links:

CBC Article: Winnie-the-Pooh Saga Turns 100 Years Old: As of August 24th, 2014 one hundred years had passed since Canadian soldier Lt. Henry Colebourn purchased an orphan bear cub whom he named Winnipeg the Bear (Winnie) after his home town. When Colebourn was called to the front, Winnie was given to the London Zoo. Read more about the actual bear that inspired the classic children's story by clicking the link.

Animal mascot's such as bears, dogs and goats were common in the first World War. Visit the Canadian War Museum's webpage the read more about these animal mascots.

Like Lt. Henry Colebourn, my great grandfather was responsible for his battalion's mascot in WW1. William Henry Guppy took Kitchener the bear to the London Zoo for safekeeping when he was called to the front. You can read all about his ride through the London streets in a hansom cab, with a Canadian bear at his side, in this post from my archives.


  1. Oh I'd love this book! Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. I've known about this book for a while now and expected that it would be a good book, but your review more than confirms that! Thanks for the review and the chance to win a copy.

  3. Oh what a wonderful story to actually learn about the 100 acre woods from a fairy tale I have loved since a child.....

    Thank you for a chance at the giveaway.....

    ~Rhonda ~

  4. Sounds like a charming book. I never knew that the 100 acre wood was an actual place!

  5. Winnie the Pooh was a favorite of my children--and me, too! This book sounds so interesting; thanks for the chance to win a copy. But I'm definitely going to check this one out no matter what--what a lovely way to spend a cold winter's evening!

  6. This book looks like a treasure of curiosity and joy. How wonderful! Loved the twig tent. Holiday best wishes. Brenda

  7. Oh I would love to win this book! I'm a huge Pooh fan & even have my own little 2.2 acre wood with my own little Christopher Robin to play in it.

    I'm not a blogger but you should be able to click on my name through my google account to contact me if I win!

  8. What an interesting book! Utterly charming!xxx

  9. Wow, I would love to win this book!

  10. Winnie the Pooh and his friends won my heart over when my boys were small, and I have loved them ever since! You did not say if one has to reside in England to be eligible for the contest. I am very far from England, but this is a book I have to read, even if i don't win it in a contest!
    Also, thanks for the link to the post about your grandfather and Gray Owl. I really enjoyed reading it!

  11. Oops! I realize you are from Ontario, not England! Well, that is a little closer!

  12. wonderfull, greeting from Belgium Mons my city

  13. what an incredibly interesting post. Even though I'm too late for the draw, I am going to add this book to my "purchase" list. Definitely something I'd enjoy.

  14. Loved those two books in your review. Just saw the movie Goodbye Christopher Robin and then found the book that it it is based on and read it this weekend. Beyond The World Of Pooh: Selections From The Memoirs Of Christopher Milne The child who portrays Christopher as a child in the movie has an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Milne as a child.

    1. I'd like to see the movie. The trailer suggests something like "out of incredible sadness was born a great children's classic." Funny enough, the classic tale Anne of Green Gables was also sprung from a life filled with sadness. See my post here:


I love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment.