A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories have always been a big hit in our home. When my daughter was young, one of her favorite stuffed animals was Pooh Bear. As an adult, she still has a soft place in her heart for Pooh and his stories.
At her wedding, guests were seated at tables that displayed quotes from A. A. Milne’s books.
At the dessert table, Tigger had his say.
My daughter continues to collect Pooh items.
On a recent visit to the New York Public Library, she was able to see Christopher Robin’s treasures. She was ecstatic.
So when I found a newly published book about Winnie-the-Pooh, I knew I had to get it for my daughter’s collection.
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss is a heartwarming story about a soldier, a bear cub, and how that cub became famous. It’s the story behind the story.
Harry Colebourn, a soldier in training during World War I, saw a man selling an orphaned bear cub at a train station. As an army veterinarian, Harry knew he could take care of her so he gave the man the money and named her Winnipeg after his company’s hometown in Canada. “Winnie” became the company’s mascot. When Harry was shipped overseas to England, he took Winnie with him. After he was given orders to care for wounded horses on the battlefield in France, Harry knew it was too dangerous to take Winnie so he contacted the London Zoo. They happily gave Winnie a home with the other cubs in a new area built just for bears. After the war ended and it was time for Harry to return home, he realized Winnie belonged at the zoo and not with him. They sadly parted. Winnie was a gentle and well-loved bear. Youngsters rode on her back and fed her milk. One of Winnie’s friends was a boy named Christopher Robin. He was so fascinated by her, he changed his stuffed bear’s name to Winnie-the-Pooh. Christopher Robin’s father, A. A. Milne, made up stories about Winnie and Christopher. Those stories were turned into books we all know and love.
Voss’s realistic illustrations are done in muted tones. They depict army life and comical scenes with Winnie that add to the warmth of Walker’s story. There is back matter that includes an author’s note providing additional biographical information about Harry Colebourn, Winnie, and A. A. Milne’s books. If you like interesting end pages, this book has a treat for you. There are pictures of Harry Colebourn, Winnie, A. A. Milne with Christopher Robin holding Winnie-the-Pooh, and more. Beneath each picture is an explanatory caption.
That’s the story behind the story. If you’re a Winnie-the-Pooh enthusiast, I recommend this book.