Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh

illus. by Jonathan D. Voss. 40p. notes. photos. websites. Holt. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805097153.
Gr 1–2—Readers will be captivated by this picture book account of the bear who inspired the "Winnie-the-Pooh" series. Walker tells the story of Harry Colebourn, a World War I soldier who came upon a man selling a baby bear at a train station (he had shot the cub's mother) and decided to adopt the animal. A veterinarian, Colebourn quickly became attached to the little bear he named Winnie (short for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Colebourn's company's hometown), who accompanied the soldier to a training camp in Quebec and became a favorite of the entire regiment. Winnie even went with the company to England when more soldiers were needed across the Atlantic. When Colebourn was sent into battle, he took Winnie to the London Zoo, where she was so gentle and tame that zookeepers sometimes let children ride on her back. There, Milne's young son, Christopher Robin, met her and fell in love, motivating Milne to pen the "Winnie-the-Pooh" books. Sweet, realistic illustrations, rendered in watercolor with pen and ink, lend the work an old-fashioned air, while a simple but gentle narrative provides readers with a sense of the emotional connection between Winnie and Colebourn. Back matter offers brief material on Colebourn, Winnie, black bears in general, and Milne's writings, as well as photographs of Winnie and Christopher Robin. Children will enjoy this interesting insight into the real story behind a beloved bear they already know so well.—April Sanders, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL
A real bear plays a part in Winnie-the-Pooh's origin story. Military veterinarian Harry Coleburn bought a bear cub on a whim; Winnie became Harry's constant companion. When Harry was deployed, he gave Winnie to the London Zoo, where she made an impression on young Christopher Milne. Descriptive text provides the story's essentials; watercolors portray the unusual story with a mix of realism and humor. Websites. Bib.
A real bear plays a part in Winnie-the-Pooh's origin story: at the London Zoo, a bear named Winnie made such a strong impression on young Christopher Milne that he renamed his stuffed bear in her honor. This is Winnie's story. When Canadian military veterinarian Harry Coleburn saw a black bear cub for sale on a train-station platform, he bought her on a whim, naming her Winnipeg after his regiment's hometown. The bear became Harry's constant companion and the regiment's mascot. As she grew, she remained gentle and affectionate with everyone but was particularly attached to Harry, traveling with him to England. When Harry was deployed to the front in France, he made the difficult decision to give her to the London Zoo. Unsurprisingly, she became a favorite with the zoo's staff, who realized she was tame enough to allow children to meet her up close and even feed her. Walker's short, descriptive text provides the essentials of the story, and Voss's watercolor illustrations portray the unusual situation with a mix of realism and humor. Endpapers display photos of Harry, the real Winnie, and Christopher and A. A. Milne; an author's note, sources, and websites are also included. lolly robinson

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing