Roo is a fictional character created in 1926 by A. A. Milne and first featured in the book Winnie–the–Pooh. He is a young kangaroo (known as a joey) and his mother is Kanga. Like most other Pooh characters, Roo is based on a stuffed toy animal that belonged to Milne's son, Christopher Robin Milne, though stuffed Roo was lost a long time ago.
Roo participates in the adventures of a teddy bear called Winnie–the–Pooh and his friends Piglet, a small toy pig; Eeyore, a toy donkey; Owl, a live owl; Rabbit, a live rabbit; and Christopher Robin, a human boy. Roo is introduced in the chapter entitled "In Which Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest and Piglet has a Bath." Roo's friend Tigger does not appear until the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner. The character Roo would subsequently appear in various cartoons and other adaptations.
Roo is a young kangaroo, or joey. His mother is called Kanga. The New York Times has noted that inquiring about the fate of Roo's father is one of many questions that could be asked, such as "Where are Pooh's pants?"
Because of his young age, Roo is a very small animal, the smallest in the story (other than Rabbit's friends and relations, and Alexander Beetle), although he must be very close in size to Piglet since Kanga is unable to tell the difference when Piglet jumps into her pouch instead of Roo. (In Ernest H. Shepard's illustrations, Roo appears to be very slightly smaller than Piglet.) He is also apparently small enough to fall down mouse holes while practicing jumps, and too small to reach the first rail of the Poohsticks bridge.
Like most of the characters in Winnie-the Pooh, Roo was based on one of Christopher Robin Milne's stuffed toys. The illustrations show Roo with brown fur and an upturned tail.
Roo and Kanga come to the Forest "in the usual way" in Chapter VII of Winnie–the–Pooh. He also appears in Chapter VIII, is mentioned in Chapter IX, and appears again in Chapter X of that book. In The House at Pooh Corner, Roo appears in chapters II, IV, VI, VII, IX, and X, and is mentioned in a few others. Some of the adventures that Roo experiences include being "kidnapped" by Rabbit, accompanying the "expotition" to the North Pole (and getting an impromptu swimming lesson), attending Christopher Robin's party for Pooh, getting stuck in a tree with Tigger, and playing Poohsticks.
Unlike many of the other characters in the Pooh books, Roo does not have a known favorite food, although his mother makes him watercress sandwiches on occasion. He dislikes the extract of malt that his mother gives him as "strengthening medicine" after meals, though he will reluctantly take it.
Roo also appears in the Disney cartoon versions of the Winnie the Pooh stories. He was originally voiced by Clint Howard. Later performers include Dori Whitaker (Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too), Dick Billingsley (Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore), Kim Christianson (Welcome to Pooh Corner), Nicholas Melody (The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), Nikita Hopkins (2000-2005), Jimmy Bennett (Springtime with Roo), Max Burkholder (My Friends Tigger and Pooh) and most recently Wyatt Hall (Winnie the Pooh).
In the cartoons, Roo is the smallest of the regularly appearing characters. He has brown fur and wears a light blue shirt. He often expresses thoughts and feelings that make him seem wiser than his years. In fact, on occasion Roo seems even wiser than many of the older characters.
He also states that he's got a mother (Kanga) when he tries to comfort Tigger in The Tigger Movie. Some people think that he puts himself on a purple scarf Piglet has accidentally left in Piglet's Big Movie. Roo also stars in his own movie, Springtime with Roo.
Roo appeared as one of the guests in House of Mouse and Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
Alleged emotional difficulties
A tongue-in-cheek psychological study of Roo was published in the year 2000, by pediatricians at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. This Canadian team was following the trend of analyzing famous art works, to point out that even wonderful people can have disorders. Reuters reported as follows about the Canadian study:
The researchers said they are especially worried about baby Roo, who is growing up in a single-parent household and whose closest friend, Tigger, is not a good role model. "We predict we will someday see a delinquent, jaded, adolescent Roo hanging out late at night at the top of the forest, the ground littered with broken bottles of extract of malt and the butts of smoked thistle," the article said.
- The Teacher's Calendar School Year 2006-2007, page 125 (McGraw-Hill Professional 2006): "Piglet, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger were all stuffed animals".
- Scott, A. "FILM REVIEW; You're Only Happy With Your Own Kind? Oh, Pooh", The New York Times (2000-02-11): "any child will tell you that stuffed animals don't have birth parents, and to raise the issue of Tigger's parentage is to invite all sorts of other questions. What happened to Roo's father? Why is Rabbit a bachelor? Where are Pooh's pants?"
- Milne, A. Winnie the Pooh (1926):
- "We are all going on an Expedition,” said Christopher Robin.
- “Going on an Expotition?” said Pooh eagerly. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on one of those. Where are we going to on this Expotition?”
- “Expedition, silly old bear."
- Shea, Sarah et al. "Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne", Canadian Medical Association Journal, Volume 163, pages 1557–1559 (2000).
- Willis, Randall. "Winnie–the–Pooh and attention deficit, too", NewsInBrief, Modern Drug Discovery (April 2001).
- Karleff, Ian. "The Winnie the Pooh Characters 'Seriously Troubled'", Reuters via TVNZ (2001).