Saturday, January 5, 2013

Philip and Pooh: A Barby Legacy


"GranE!  GranE!  Come here!  We discovered something new in the Pooh book!”


Philip and I were having fun pouring over a totally amazing Winnie the Pooh pop-up book that has become a treasured reminder of the life of my friend Barby Britsch, storyteller and children’s literature professor, who died a few weeks ago.  Her son David graciously said we could have the book for Philip.  Barby’s spirit hovered, as Philip William, my great grandson, discovered that the book included punch-out cut-outs of Pooh, Christopher Robin and all their friends. 

Barby had never popped them out, so Philip got to do it. Barby had left a great gift.  

Philip was enthralled. "We discovered something NEW!” he repeated, with the pure enthusiasm only a five-year old with a great imagination, and the power of that magic age, could muster!

GranE came in the room from washing dishes and helped us pop the figures out and stand them up.  Then we three had a fabulous game of finding where they belonged on the board, the great forest where Winnie the Pooh and his friends lived.    

“I found Owl’s house!” Philip yelled. He put Owl up in a lovely tree house. And here’s Christopher Robin’s house!  Here are houses for rabbit, piglet, Kanga and Roo, and Eyeore!  Oh here’s an umbrella! And some honey pots, too, for Pooh!

“Where’s tigger’s house, Nana Franna?” Hmm. Gee I don’t see it.  Do you?

GranE said, “Let’s read the story and see if we get a clue.”  So as Philip made sure there were places for everyone, GranE read the little booklet, Pooh Goes Visiting, that came with the pop-up book.  She came to the end: every friend lined up to pull a honey-stuffed Pooh out of rabbit’s doorway. She paused.  Philip lined ‘em up.  They pulled Pooh out! Free at last. “Free to get more honey!” 

But tigger still didn’t have a house.  No clues from the story either. We studied the board again. “How about putting him in the middle of the forest, right here.” That’s where tigers usually live.  Great idea!  We found a home for tigger! 

Philip then decided it was time for a party with tigger in the forest.  He got all of Pooh’s friends in.  I sang a honey song: “Isn’t it funny how Bears like honey!” Eyeore lagged behind moaning and groaning about how he wasn’t sure about parties. “What a party pooper,” we all agreed. 

Okay, the party’s over, Philip announced.  And so we put all the cut-outs in a little envelope on the pop-up board just for them.  A special pocket, where Pooh and his friends could snuggle up until the next time they went out for a walk in the forest, and Pooh had another adventure. 

Philip’s imagination soared. Barby smiled on him, an angel on his shoulder, reading softly, “Once Upon a Time,” and “They all lived happily ever after.”

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