My mother raised us on Winnie the Pooh. Memories of my mother reading it aloud go back to my very earliest childhood memories, and so make the stories especially dear to me.
A side note about that... I am grateful for the good, wholesome things my parents gave me to get nostalgic about. It's kind of disturbing to think about some of the repulsive things that some little kids are being exposed to, and how those things will someday be nostalgic to them... It gives me the willies to think of grownups years hence feeling the same glow of affection for some of these modern cartoon characters that I feel for Winnie the Pooh and Dr. Seuss... just one more reason to deliberately and carefully choose what media is read or watched repeatedly by one's young children...
Anyway, back to Pooh. My mom did a great job reading the stories aloud with various voices for the characters.
When the Badger and I got married, he played for me the cassette tape recording of the Pooh stories that he grew up with. I hated it. The voices were all wrong! They didn't sound like the way my mom did the characters at all! More than that, though, I just didn't like the way they interpreted some of the characters, especially Pooh himself.
I have been trying for years now to get my mom to make a recording of her reading the stories. I keep telling her that it will be a priceless gem for generations.
From time to time I checked to see if there were other commercial recordings available and I never could find any.
Until my last trip to the library. Going through the audio book selection in the children's section, I found a recording of The House at Pooh Corner that I had never seen before. The names Stephen Fry and Judi Dench caught my eye. I had to check this out!
I put it in the car CD player and I told myself to keep an open mind. Of course the characters were going to sound different than what I was used to, or how I thought they should be.
I immediately fell in love with Pooh.... he was perfect. And Eeyore is amazing: the actor who does Eeyore totally gets all the little British mannerisms in the text and he does an absolutely stellar job. Most of the other characters are good too: Rabbit, Owl, Roo, Kanga, Christopher Robin... Piglet is a little raspy sometimes, but usually cute. Tigger is very different than I have ever heard Tigger done before-- certainly different than the Disney movie-- but he's well-done and I liked him once I got over how different he was.
There was one big thing I did not like about the recording. They switch narrators often-- every few sentences-- going back and forth between a man and a woman. I found that very distracting.
Peanut and Frog immediately loved it. It made me happy how even little Frog kept asking me to turn it on when we got in the car.
However, Bean hates it. He listened to the Badger's cassette a few times as a kid and so these voices were All Wrong to him and he can't bear it. I definitely relate to that!
Bean notwithstanding, I plan to buy my own copies of this version at some point. It's worth owning. However, I still hope my mom will make a recording for us! Overall, I think Winnie-the-Pooh is best read aloud by someone you love.