Well, the rumors are true and Christopher returns to the Forest and his old friends tomorrow when Dutton Chrildren's Books (an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group) releases the first new Winnie-the-Pooh book in 80 years. The finished book was delivered to Dutton in January but its contents have been a carefully guarded secret until now - no review copies were released and the first chapter was made available for preview only last week.
From the official press release comes these details:
Written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood continues the adventures of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore and friends. Egmont Publishing will publish the book simultaneously in the UK. Penguin Audio will publish an audio version of the book read by Grammy Award-winner Jim Dale. The book has an announced first printing of 300,000.[...]
Dutton officially introduced Christopher Robin and his "silly old bear" to the US in 1926 with the publication of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard. However Pooh had a significant walk-on role in 1924 with the publication of When We Were Very Young by A.A Milne with illustrations by E.H. Shepard. Milne and Shepard went on to collaborate on two more titles: Now We Are Six in 1927 and The House At Pooh Corner, which introduced Tigger, in 1928. Together, these four books form the basis of the original Pooh books. Newly-designed editions of all four books were published September 3rd.Link to the book's beautifully illustrated first chapter
The new book does have the approval of the Trustees of the Pooh Properties but I have mixed emotions about the whole concept. I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to this kind of thing and my first reaction is to prefer that well enough be left alone. Messing around with a classic book by having someone other than the original author write a sequel to it is always a bit dangerous because the new author is extremely unlikely to be able to reach the level of the original - and, as a result, both the original and the new become somewhat tainted in the minds of readers. That said, however, this kind of thing probably does work better with children's books because so much of the story is told with easily mimicked illustrations.
For a more complete look at Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, including a video, go to the official Penguin website.