Archives: Winnie-the-Pooh

Tardy Film Reviews: Big Hero 6

My daughter V.V.,  the budding Disney animated film enthusiast, is highly discriminating. But when she likes something, she is obsessive. This may be typical of the nigh-two year population at large: I don’t know; this is my first trip down fatherhood lane.

V.V.’s latest obsession is Big Hero 6, Disney’s first foray into animated superhero films after The Incredibles. This joins The Jungle Book, Lilo and Stitch, and The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in her arsenal of go to, view ad nauseum movies. Why these? Why the lack of interest in 101 Dalmations or The Aristocats? I have a theory that I hereby designate the Pooh Theory. V.V. is drawn to animation featuring rotund, cuddly, semi-neotenic characters. Winnie the Pooh was the first. Baloo the Bear followed. She always grows more animated when he appears on screen. He’s a more adult Pooh, but I think the connection is there. Stitch is a cuddly stuffed-animal sort of character, somewhat bear-like. And Baymax, the robotic health-care provider cum superhero, fits the mold. As exhibit 1 (and the only exhibit, really – this is just a half-assed theory, not a doctoral thesis) I submit that when Baymax appears on screen V.V. will occasionally say “Pooh.”

Coloring the Tabula Rasa

 

Victoria Valentina Lizzi reached a year-and-a-half of age about a week ago. She is becoming a discriminating serial viewer of Disney films. Highly discriminating and highly serial. I never thought “The Bare Necessities” and “I Want to Be Like You” could grow tiresome, but after the umpteenth viewing of “The Jungle Book”I want to strangle the shiftless jungle bum, Balu.

Still, there is no denying V.V.’s good taste in this instance. “The Jungle Book” is a fine animated feature. It little resembles its source material. But since the bones of the tale derive from Rudyard Kipling, the adaptors would have had to work hard to screw it up.

Immortal Creations

I think the pages of Sherlock Holmes pastiche I’ve read equals or surpasses the volume of “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” I have on my shelves. And I’m certain I’ve barely scratched the surface of the short stories, novels, comic books, etc. featuring Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation. I’ll be able to skip three of the stories in the anthology of Holmes stories I’m currently reading since I read them already in another anthology I own. Has anyone ever performed a count of non-Canon Sherlock Holmes stories? I imagine the tally would be obsolete by the time it was completed. And the number is even larger if we include anonymous appearances by the great detective, e.g., Roger Zelazny’s “A Night in the Lonesome October.”

It is a rare and wonderful feat for a character to outlive its creator. Few characters capture the imagination of large enough swathes of the reading public to inspire new adventures after the original author dies.

A Child's Library

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I’ve been thinking about what books to purchase for Victoria Valentina. With what titles shall I stock her library? Honestly I’ve been pondering this since before she was born. Look, that’s just how I am. Don’t judge me.

I’ve already picked up a paperback copy of Tbe Wind in the Willows. She may be about a decade from appreciating that one. I read it aloud to my wife. It’s been more than thirty years since I’d last read it. It held up, though it is more ponderous and somewhat less whimsical than I remember.

A boxed set of of A.A. Milne is probably at the head of the list. Winnie-the-Pooh, When We Were Young, etc. Maybe Beatrix Potter. These are likely the foundations, the talking animals, stuffed or otherwise. We can move on to Charlotte’s Web later.

I’ll probably want a nice hardcover, illustrated fairy-tale collection. And a Hans Christian Anderson collection. I’ve already got The Hobbit, copies in English and Spanish. But this might be an excuse to buy another edition.

Looking at this selection I see a decided predilection toward the fantastic. Is it any wonder I write fantasy and science-fiction? I suppose I’ll want to pick up a Laura Ingalls Wilder set as well. Establish some historical grounding. I’ve got editions of Robin Hood and King Arthur tales, but those hardly qualify as historical.

Some might say that the books I’ve selected are written for more advanced readers, that contemporary children’s books are more age-appropriate. Some would say that the concepts and vocabulary in my selections will prove challenging for little Victoria, that the language is outmoded, the morals old-fashioned, that I’m attempting to impose my own childhood on my daughter.

You know what? I don’t see a problem with any of that.

Of course, she won’t even turn one until November. So I’ve got some time.