Winnie-the-Pooh meets Queen Elizabeth II (and Prince George) in new book

Winnie-the-Pooh and Queen Elizabeth II are the same age, both born (the clumsy, good-hearted bear via the publication of A.A. Milne's book) in 1926. This week, a new story, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday, was made available for free download, in text and audio format, in celebration of the 90th birthday of both famous figures.

(The queen's actual birthday is April 21, but official celebrations are held on different dates across the Commonwealth; in Britain, they are on June 11 this year.)

The new releases are not the first connection between the queen and the bear: Milne dedicated a 1926 book of songs featuring Pooh, Teddy Bear and Other Songs, to the newborn Princess Elizabeth.

The new story, published by Disney, which owns the rights to the character, was written by Jane Riordan and illustrated by Mark Burgess in the manner of E.H. Shepard, who created the illustrations for the original Pooh book and a 1928 sequel, The House at Pooh Corner. Burgess also illustrated the first authorised sequel to the original Pooh books, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, published in 2009.

In the new adventure, Pooh travels with his human companion, Christopher Robin, and his woodland friends Eeyore and Piglet, to Buckingham Palace to present the queen with what he calls "a hum."

"The Queen lived in her palace, as Queens often do.

"Doing all those busy things that busy Queens do. But The Queen could never know, as you and I do,

"That doing nothing much can be the BEST thing to do.

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"So from a forest far away, for your special day, We're sending you some quiet and a little time to play."

The friends also encounter a small boy who bears a strong resemblance to the queen's great-grandson, Prince George ("much younger than Christopher Robin and almost as bouncy as Tigger").

As Pooh says on the trip home: "It must be a very great thing to be 90 years old."

The New York Times

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