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

WinnieWritten by Sally M. Walker, Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

Harry Colebourn, a soldier and veterinarian, was travelling when his train pulled into a Canadian train station and he saw a small bear cub for sale on the platform. He knew he wanted to care for it so Harry paid $20.00 and brought the bear back on the train with him. But what was he thinking? His captain wanted to know. Harry loved animals and he knew he just had to save the little cub, and besides, he had already named her. Winnipeg would become the company mascot. By the time the train reached its destination, the military training camp in Valcartier, in Quebec, her name had been shortened to Winnie. Harry and company took care of Winnie in Canada and England until the war intensified and they were deployed to France. Harry knew he couldn’t take Winnie with him and found a wonderful home for her at the London Zoo. He promised he would take her back when the war was over. During that time, Winnie became a zoo favorite and made many friends with both zookeepers and bears, as well as the patrons. Harry finally returned but saw how Winnie loved her home at the zoo and decided he would let her stay. About this time a young boy visited Winnie and got to feed her. His father watched his delighted son. That night Christopher Robin’s father, the famous author A.A. Milne asked his son if he wanted a bedtime story about a boy and his bear, formerly called Edward, but now changed to Winnie-the-Pooh. Those stories grew into books written by A.A. Milne, and Winnie and Christopher Robin became immortalized.

This story is so heartwarming. Author Sally M. Walker has written a true picture book about the events that took place in the early 1900s and Jonathan D. Voss’s illustrations are as beautiful and warm as the story. There are actual photographs on the insides of the front and back covers. I read this to several classes and they were so captivated by this gentle bear and the kindness of all the people who took care of her. “We love this story!” the students all said, and I agree.

Review by Renee Larsen, Hillside Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 2-3

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh
Written by Sally M. Walker, Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
Henry Holt and Company
40 pages
Release Date: January 20, 2015

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