Winnie-the-Pooh and friends are back from the plastic surgeon.
The five stuffed animals – Pooh, Eeyore, Kanga, Piglet and Tigger – who once belonged to Christopher Robin, the son of author A.A. Milne, were unveiled at the children’s room of New York Public Library main branch yesterday morning after more than a year of repairs, restoration and, umm, freshening.
They look mahvelous, dahling.
Love hurts, as the extensive wear on the toys attested: Among the meticulous repairs? 52 neck patches on Eeeyore were replaced, Piglet’s snout “was humidified and secured in its proper position,” and “the plush on Pooh’s bottom was gently steamed and fluffed using, among other things, a microspatula,” according to the museum.
“They were very well loved,” by Christopher Robin, observed Managing Librarian at the Children’s Center Louise C. Lareau.
The toys, which date to the 1920s, have been on display at the Library since they were donated in 1980s by E.P Dutton (a publishing company now known as Penguin) and are enormously popular with the 200,000 to 300,000 people who come to the Children’s Room each year, said Lareau. Milne’s books, “are literary superstars,” and “huge gift books,” often bestowed by grandparents: “People want to share the things they experienced as children,” Lareau explained.
There is a mail box on site so visitors can make and “send” birthday cards to Pooh, who will be 95 on Aug. 21. (Pooh’s birthday is celebrated as Christopher Robin’s first birthday.) Those wishing to send their regards electronically can do so at nypl.org/happybirthdaywinnie.
The eternal appeal of Pooh is due to Milne’s insightful writing, said Lareau: “It’s a friendship story, an adventure story and an imagination story: (The animals) all have such great and (distinct) personalities,” that children find relateable. “Winnie the Pooh is bumbling and sweet, but a good friend. And he is obsessed with honey, which is something a lot of kids can relate to,” she explained.
Alas, visitors may not play with the plush toys, which are secured in a glass vitrine, though many want to: “They press their faces up against the glass to get as close as possible. There’s a lot of Windex, a lot of finger prints,” said Lareau.