Wherever we go, there’s always Pooh – and now the best bear in all the world has got a brand-new friend.
That’s right; a new Winnie-the-Pooh character has been unveiled to mark the 90th anniversary of the book's publication.
Just like Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and the “bear of very little brain”, Penguin was inspired by one of the real toys owned by AA Milne’s son, Christopher Robin.
He will make his first appearance in a new adventure, The Best Bear In All The World, which is being published in October.
Author Brian Sibley - who penned Winter: In Which Penguin Arrives In The Forest, one of four seasonal stories to be featured in the yet-to-be published book – explained: "For someone who has loved Winnie-the-Pooh and co from his earliest childhood, the idea of visiting Hundred Acre Wood in search of a new story was wildly exciting.”
He told The Telegraph that Penguin was inspired by a photograph of Milne and his son playing with a penguin toy – right alongside the iconic teddy that became known as Winnie-the-Pooh.
"The thought of Pooh encountering a penguin seemed no more outlandish than his meeting a kangaroo and a tiger in a Sussex wood," said Sibley, "so I started thinking about what might have happened if, on a rather snowy day, Penguin had found his way to Pooh Corner."
Penguin is the first ever new character to be authorised by the Milne estate.
An official sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, The Best Bear In All the World is an anthology of new stories, which have been written by Sibley, Paul Bright, Jeanne Willis, and Kate Saunders.
Each tale in the collection has been written in homage to A.A. Milne and E.H Shepard’s famous bear and in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the first publication of Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926.
Nicole Pearson, Creative Director, Egmont Publishing, commented: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with four authors who have such passion and respect for Milne’s writing. Each really understood the wonderful characterization Milne brought to his books, his playwright’s facility with dialogue and, of course, his unique sense of humour.
“Each writer has managed to recapture the timeless appeal of the Hundred Acre Wood in their new stories and we very much hope that these adventures will remind fans of why they loved the original Winnie-the-Pooh books and also introduce 'the best bear in all the world' to a brand new generation of readers.”
Stephanie Thwaites, Literary Agent, Curtis Brown Group Lt, added: “These are not easy footsteps to follow in and each one of the authors has risen to the challenge admirably. It has been a privilege to work on this project and we are delighted to be able to offer these new adventures to young readers and Winnie-the-Pooh fans throughout the world.”
Mark Burgess will illustrate all four stories in the anthology in the style of original illustrator EH Shepard. He provided the illustrations for the first authorised sequel, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, which was published in the UK in 2009 and has since sold 67,000 copies through Nielsen Book Scan and been published in 26 different countries.
“The Shepard Trust is delighted that Mark Burgess has once again agreed to illustrate these four new stories, following on from his acclaimed illustrations for The Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, which reflect so effectively back to Shepard’s original iconic illustrations,” they commented.
It remains to be seen exactly how Penguin will fit into the world of the Hundred Acre Wood – or even whether he will prove to be a permanent character.
However we imagine that Pooh’s new flipper-footed friend, much like Tigger did before him, is sure to liven things up when he arrives on a blustery and snowy day.
Images: Getty, Rex Features