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

walker_winnieWinnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh
by Sally M. Walker; illus. by Jonathan D. Voss
Primary   Holt   32 pp.
1/15   978-0-8050-9715-3   $17.99

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.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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