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When We Were Very Young (Winnie-the-Pooh) Hardcover – October 31, 1988

105 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Winnie-the-Pooh Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

In all likelihood, your mother or father read you these poems and remember their parents reading the same. This collection of poetry by the creator of Winnie the Pooh was first published in 1924. With its companion volume Now We Are Six, the little books became two of the biggest bestsellers in publishing history. Children all over the world have heard about changing the guard at Buckingham Palace; James James Morrison Morrison Weather by George Dupree; the three little foxes who kept their handkerchiefs in cardboard boxes; and, of course, Christopher Robin, named for A.A. Milne's son. Adults and older children will enjoy Milne's poems too, as some of his humor is subtly directed at a more sophisticated audience. But younger children are the ones who love the naughty Mary Jane (lovely rice pudding again?) and the bears on the corners of London's streets. Read these poems aloud and pass along (or start) a family tradition. (Ages 5 to 9)

From School Library Journal

Grade all levels?Penguin's production amplifies the fact that A.A. Milne has created some of the most memorable poetry and prose in children's literature. Charles Kuralt narrates all the tapes. When We Were Very Young resounds with Kuralt's lively reading of the nonsensical and onomatopoetic rhymes that fill the heads of toddlers. Opposite these poems, the narrator reads, with loving care, the verses about the real and imaginary playmates that warm youngsters' hearts. Now We Are Six reflects the growing complexity of a child's world. The narrator's voice is soft and vulnerable when reading of the innocent, inquisitive thoughts that preoccupy children, yet Kuralt speaks with a touch of exasperation when reading the poems depicting the young's struggle to understand the adult world. He does equally as well with Milne's stories. All the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood are introduced and their humorous escapades chronicled in Winnie-the-Pooh. While portraying the characters, Kuralt's child-like tone reflects their goodness, innocence, and wee intellect. The House at Pooh Corner continues the adventures of Pooh and introduces the bouncing, pouncing, lovable Tigger. Besides the delight children will experience when listening to the light-hearted, captivating stories, young listeners will also identify with the universal hopes, fears, and wishes of the characters. Kuralt's deep, learned-sounding voice gives the narration a fatherly, comforting feel. Libraries will want to acquire these high quality productions.?Mark P. Tierney, William B. Wade Elementary School, Waldorf, MD
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Hardcover: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (October 31, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525444459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525444459
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Alexander Milne was born in London on January 18, 1882, the third and youngest son of a schoolmaster. At age eleven, he won a scholarship to the Westminster School. He went on to attend Cambridge University and became the editor of the undergraduate paper, Granta. After graduating from Cambridge in 1903, Milne moved back to London with enough savings to live for one year. He was determined to become a writer. By 1906, he had been offered the position of Assistant Editor at Punch, a classic British humor magazine. He remained at Punch for the next eight years.
In 1913, Milne married Dorothy de Selincourt (known as Daphne) and moved to a house in London's Chelsea section. When World War I broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, eventually serving in France. During his training period, he wrote his first play, Wurzel-Flummery, which was produced in London in 1917.

By 1919, having completed one book and several plays, Milne finally achieved financial independence. His play, Mr. Pim Passes By, previously staged in London, was produced by the Theatre Guild in New York City. It was as great a success there as it had been on the London stage. Milne was now well established as a witty and fashionable London playwright. In 1920, Christopher Robin Milne was born, an event that was to change the history of children's literature. In 1923, during a rainy holiday in Wales, Milne began work on a collection of verses for children. The result was When We Were Very Young, published in 1924.

Demand for Milne's whimsical work was overwhelming, and in 1926, he duplicated his earlier success with the publication of Winnie-the-Pooh. The sequel, The House at Pooh Corner, followed in 1927. Now We Are Six, another charming collection of verse, followed one year later. It was through these four books, all illustrated by the wonderfully talented Ernest H. Shepard, that Milne acquired a vast audience outside of the theater. In the years since their initial publication, interest in these books has grown and grown.

Milne continued to be a prolific essayist, novelist, and poet until his death in 1956.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bronwyn on June 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My father died 10 years ago when I was nineteen. I know he used to read "when we were very young" to me when I was a child, but it wasn't until I began to read the poems as bedtime stories to my 2 year old, that I began to remember my dad's emphasis and inflections. As I read my favourites to my son, I can almost hear Dad reading them to me.
I am thrilled that my son asks for Christopher Robin as his bedtime stories and "Hoppity" and "Market Square" have become his favourites too. He is an avid reader and I am just beginning to introduce him to poetry, what better way than A A Milne - It makes me feel like a child again and connects a grandson and a grandfather who never met each other.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A. Ryan on November 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Forget the smoke-filled coffee shop, the microphone on the podium and the beatnicks huddled around their coffees. The real test of a reader's poetic prowess is A.A. Milne, the living room couch and a handful of kids waiting for your renderings of growling bears and timelessl human characters.
It takes an extraordinary book to capture children's attention on the strength of words alone.
It's not that there are no illustrations here, just that each poem has just one or two small, original ink drawings; delightful, but bowing appropriately to the genius of words that can hold children spellbound. For instance, Milne takes a subject like sidewalks and transforms it into the stuff of playacting in Lines and Squares - an irresistible cadence to chant on a walk (or a lumbering gait):
And the masses of bears
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat the sillies who tread on the lines of the street
And I say to them, "BEARS.....
Just look how I'm walking in ALL of the squares!"
As I read I can now recall the precise inflection and finger-shaking combination from Disobedience that it took to elicit giggles from my sisters and me, now working its comedy on my four-year-old son:
James James SAID to his mother, "Mother", he said, said he;
"You Must Never Go Down To The End Of Town If You Don't Go Down With ME!"
When We Were Very Young is a collection of poems for children, about childhood, and for those who wish to remember its special magic view on the world. This book is a beloved tradition in my family, starting with those cozy evenings on my Grandmother's couch as we all snuggled up to hear about the brownie that lives behind the curtain, Jonathan Jo (who had a mouth like an O), the three foxes and Christopher Robin, who couldn't stop his hoppity hop. Your family is sure to find its own traditions in reading these poems to each other, young and old alike.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like "A Child's Garden of Verses," the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, A.A. Milnes' "When We Were Very Young," collects and reminds us of childhood bliss. However, unlike Stevenson, Milne has the whimsy of Edward Lear's limericks and verse. Milne captures the joy and gentleness of youth.

For example, Milne has a poem with a refrain:

Jonathon Jo
has a mouth like an 'O'

It is fun to say, and it almost means something. Another poem talks about halfway up and down the stairs, getting a child to see the difference and sameness of the situation, great for critical thinking.

If you want pure silly humor, go buy Silverstein, but for great writing and solid bedtime reading to teach your child wit and poetry, buy this tiny book. There's a good chance you will like it as well.

Anthony Trendl
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A.A. Milne's early classic, WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG, reads like a literary fountain of youth. It's a short little book aimed most likely at those who are not old enough to read and probably only barely old enough to be read to. Yet fans of A.A. Milne (there are far more adult fans than young fans) as well as lovers of English verse will fall in love with this little book. It contains 44 poems, all of which are fun and simple. The illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard provide wonderful compliments to each poem. This is the perfect introduction to A.A. Milne.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Dumas on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I was a little boy, my father would read these poems to me. I still have my heavily-battered copy, and every time I look through it, I am overwhelmed with fond memories. The poems in this book are often very simple, but all are very sweet, and Ernest Shepard's illustrations perfectly complement the poems. Every child should have a copy of this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on March 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Re-reading the poems in this volume takes me back to when I was very young, and fast-forwards to me reading them to my son when he was three or four. A.A. Milne's timeless verses stay with us long after other childhood books have been forgotten. Every child has his or her own favorites; I remember my son especially loved listening to "James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree", "The King's Breakfast" (The King asked the Queen and the Queen asked the Dairymaid: "Could we have some butter for the Royal slice of bread?"), and Emmeline, who slipped off in a snit when someone told her her hands weren't clean. Ernest Shepard's simple pen and ink drawings are a nice compliment to the poems. Reading these poems to your youngsters is sure to be the start (or the continuation) of a family tradition.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By theboombody VINE VOICE on January 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I had to read this for a little while before I got to a poem I really liked. The first 10 or so poems just seemed incomplete to me. "Independence" caught my eye first. In very few words it pretty much tells us adults that our kids are going to do what they want, despite all the things we say. It's followed by the wonderful poem "Nursery Chairs" where a child pretends the chairs in his house are different things. Then after "Nursery Chairs" is another strong poem, "Market Square" where we learn that there are things all around us in nature that we don't need to get from the market.

"Disobedience" is another interesting poem. It's kind of a role-reversal story about a kid whose mother disobeys his orders to stay away from the end of town, and she gets lost as the result of her disobedience.

"Spring Morning" emphasizes the beauty of nature to us, saying, "It's awful fun to be born at all." Next is "The Island" which has a wonderful closing message that screams, "God made it all - FOR US!" to me.

And there are so many other joyous poems in this quick read too. There's "Jonathan Jo," "Rice Pudding," "The Wrong House," "The Dormouse and the Doctor" (which has some terrific rhythm), a very touching "Little Bo-Peep and Little Boy Blue," "The Invaders," "If I Were King," etc., etc.

But perhaps my favorite poem in the collection is "Halfway Down" which is about nothing more than sitting on stairs. Man, if someone can take such a simple act and make it so astoundingly wondrous, then that person truly must be one of the greatest writers ever.
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