Thank you for your recent submission Winnie the Pooh . We at Button Books are always on the lookout for new material by promising authors. I found your manuscript to be well written, the characters engaging and the stories filled with enough charm and whimsy to entertain young readers.
Unfortunately I will have to pass on the book, at least for now. The characters and plot don’t have enough relevance in today’s world. The good news is, I have some recommendations that would help punch up the characters, add an edginess to the story and make it more appropriate and appealing for the 21st century. Please feel free to resubmit this work keeping in mind the following suggestions:
1. Rethink the bees and Pooh’s obsession with honey. With the rise in childhood obesity and the diabetes epidemic in this country, you might want Pooh to count carbs, practice self-restraint and try using Stevia. Unless, of course, you have a sequel in mind called Winnie the Amputated Pooh.
2. Change some of the names. Perhaps Geraldo, Miguel or Diego the Pooh or Omar, Mohammed, or Jibar – to be more inclusive? And could Christopher Robin be gay bisexual, or transgender? Maybe rename him, too? Try Lance, Brooklyn or Apple.
3. It’s great that Christopher Robin, Winnie and Owl have some attention deficit issues and learning problems as evidenced by their confusion, inattentiveness, and appalling spelling, but maybe another character (Piglet comes to mind) could be shy, obsessed with origami, and socially inept? A little Asperger’s would go over big.
4. Good problem-solving skills exhibited when Christopher Robin reads to Pooh for a week waiting for him to lose weight so that he can get unstuck from the tree hole. Reading is big (and we do sell books), but with weight loss at an acceptable 1-2 pounds a week, it would take much longer for Pooh to escape. He might even plateau. To kill time, have Christopher read Pooh a book by Proust or Tolstoy and then share ideas.
5. The multigenerational characters are wonderful. Maybe a conversation about where to put poor, confused Eeyore as he ages out of living independently? The other characters might visit some assisted-living facilities or interview home caregivers. Show Eeyore learning to use a walker.
6. To beef up the plot line and add some excitement, replace the many days of boring, never-ending rain depicted near the end with a tsunami.
7. As the story is set in England, a Downton Abbey touch would be useful. Have the characters get dressed fashionably for dinner or enjoy high tea. The honey would work too if used in moderation, assuming the Stevia recommendation doesn’t pan out. Pooh could wear a monocle and address Christopher Robin as “My Lord.” Monogrammed velvet slippers might add to the mood.
All and all, this is a wonderful idea needing minor work. I look forward to seeing your revisions. Promotional dolls and stuffed toys might be developed. Think American Girl but more British Pooh. Imagine an HBO series adaptation “Game of Bees” or “Pooh Corner Empire” and perhaps a violent X-Box game called “POOHF!”
Associate Editor, Children’s Division
Ricki Miller, an elementary school teacher for decades, is now pursuing an MFA in Writing from Stony Brook. She carries a piglet keychain.