Winnie-the-Pooh is back, with otter called Lottie

Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:10pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Winnie-the-Pooh returns to Hundred Acre Wood on Monday in the first authorized sequel to A.A. Milne's beloved children's stories for over 80 years.

The honey-loving bear will be joined by new friend Lottie the otter in author David Benedictus's follow-up to the 1920s classics, melancholic donkey Eeyore becomes "more proactive" and the characters engage in a game of cricket.

"Return to the Hundred Acre Wood" hits the shelves on October 5 in Britain and the United States, and publishers will be hoping that a wave of nostalgia and a new generation of readers will justify a print run of several hundred thousands.

For Michael Brown, chairman of the Trustees of the Pooh Properties which owns some of the rights to the original stories, the book is the culmination of 20 years of effort.

"As far as I am concerned it started in 1988," Brown said, referring to minutes of a meeting of trustees where the idea of a sequel to "Winnie-the-Pooh" and "The House At Pooh Corner" was first raised.

"Some people would say: 'You really can't do that, you know, this is our cultural heritage'," he told Reuters. "It was something people had grown up with.

"But eventually in about 2006, talking both to our American publishers and English publishers, we found they were much more receptive to the idea."

The rights to Milne's creation Pooh, and the famous original drawings by E.H. Shepard, are complicated. But the stories and movie and merchandising spinoffs have been worth billions of dollars to the Walt Disney Co since 1961.   Continued...

<p>The front cover from Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is seen in this handout released to Reuters in London September 30, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Burgess/Trustees of the Pooh Properties 2009/Handout</p>