The Book of Pooh is an American television series that aired on the Disney Channel. It is the third television series to feature the characters from the Disney Winnie the Pooh franchise based on A.A. Milne's works; the other two were the live-action Welcome to Pooh Corner (to which this series bears resemblance) and the animated The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which ran from 1988-1991. It premiered on January 22, 2001, and completed its run on July 8, 2003. The show is produced by Shadow Projects, and Playhouse Disney. This is the first Pooh show where Jim Cummings voices Tigger for the entire series, taking over from the late Paul Winchell, as well as the last one for John Fiedler before his eventual death in 2005.
The series appears to take place sometime after the events of Milne's original stories since his son Christopher Robin Milne is clearly a fifth grader and 11 years old. The series departs from many of the established facts of Milne's books; for example, Tigger resides in the Hundred Acre Wood from the start, and Kanga and Roo are later introduced as newcomers. Neither Christopher nor his mother speak with an English accent.
Each show begins entering Christopher Robin's bedroom and hearing his mother say, "Christopher, time for school." Christopher Robin answers, "OK, Mom!", puts down a book and leaves. This is where the book with Pooh and his friends in it opens and the theme song begins. The show can be viewed as non-canonical in other ways. For example, Tigger likes - or at least is shown to eat - honey (compared with most other versions of the Winnie the Pooh stories where "Tiggers don't like honey!") and can climb up - but more importantly climb down from trees. In addition, Rabbit lives in a tree, as opposed to living in a burrow in other versions. However, it is explained why in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The series is the only Pooh series to feature Kessie the bluebird as a semi-regular character, her character having been introduced in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and seen only in a couple of installments and in a special. In The Book of Pooh, Kessie is living more regularly in the Hundred Acre Wood and often ends up as part of the adventures.
The series features a particular focus on concepts of words, wordplay and the nature of language. All installments feature at least one original song. Outside of the language theme, installments focus on topics such as showing bravery, caring for others and learning about nature.
Style of puppetry
The style of puppetry is based on Japanese bunraku puppetry, and this - along with the cut-out style backgrounds gives the show the look of a pop-up book - hence "The Book of Pooh". It was the first use of the Shadowmation process developed by creator Mitchell Kriegman which was later used in the PBS series It's A Big Big World.
The characters in the show regularly sing and dance in ways that enhance the story being told. Many of the episodes do not have much basis in the main A.A. Milne stories, excepting the characters (except for Kessie who was a character that Disney made and previously appeared in The New Adventures).
The design and animation of the show were done by Chris Renaud.
The series received two Emmy Awards.
The characters who appear regularly are:
- Winnie the Pooh and Tigger: Jim Cummings (this is the first Pooh TV show where Cummings regularly voiced Tigger. In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, he voiced Tigger in some episodes, serving as an understudy for the Paul Winchell until his official retirement in 1999)
- Piglet: John Fiedler (this is the last Pooh series where Fiedler voices Piglet before his eventual death from cancer in 2005. His successor, Travis Oates voiced the character in the following series, My Friends Tigger and Pooh)
- Rabbit: Ken Sansom
- Eeyore: Peter Cullen
- Owl: Andre Stojka
- Kessie: Stephanie D'Abruzzo
- Christopher Robin: Paul Tiesler (his face was never shown )
- Christopher Robin's Mom: Vicki Kenderes-Eibner
- Kanga: Kath Soucie
- Roo: Nikita Hopkins
- Mr. Narrator: Roger L. Jackson
The versions of Tigger and Pooh that were seen on this show later made an appearance in a music video by the We Are Family foundation.
Home media releases
- Main article: The Book of Pooh videography
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