And now, a spot of good book news among the bleak: 2009 will see the return of Winnie the Pooh. The estate of A.A. Milne has authorized a sequel to the original Pooh books and A.P. Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, will publish “Return to the Hundred Acre Wood” on Oct. 5.
The Milne estate had long been wanting to authorize a sequel, Pooh trustee Michael Brown told the press. But the right author and artist were needed. Author David Benedictus (who did two successful audio adaptations of the Pooh books) and artist Mark Burgess have "captured the spirit and quality of those original books," said Brown.
Milne himself wrote only two Pooh books "Winnie-the-Pooh" (1926) and "The House at Pooh Corner" (1928). Each has been translated into more than 50 languages.
Disney bought the movie, television, and merchandise rights from the Milne estate in 1961, but most Pooh purists do not consider the Disney characters to be an extension of the true Pooh.
"We believe that David Benedictus and [illustrator] Mark Burgess have captured the spirit and quality of those original books," Brown told the press. "We hope that the many millions of Pooh enthusiasts and readers around the world will embrace and cherish these new stories as if they had just emerged from the pen of A. A. Milne himself."
Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, told the Wall Street Journal that he expects the title to be a "huge seller for a long, long time." The initial print run will be in excess of 100,000.