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

Sally M. Walker, illus. by Jonathan D. Voss. Holt, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9715-3
Walker (Freedom Song) provides a concise, affecting account of the story behind the bear that sparked the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh. The heart of the story is the relationship between Winnie (short for Winnipeg) and Harry Colebourn, a WWI Canadian Veterinary Corps soldier who impulsively bought the young orphaned bear at an Ontario train station. Making a memorable debut, Voss highlights Winnie’s playful personality, as well as the close bond between her and Colebourn (an especially sweet sequence shows Winnie digging through the soldier’s uniform as they play her favorite game, “hide-and-seek biscuits”). Subtle sepia tones give the nostalgic pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations the feel of period photographs (actual period photos are also included). When Colebourn ships out to care for wounded horses in France, he finds her a new home at the London Zoo. This bittersweet separation has a gratifying resolution: Winnie easily adjusts to life among the other bears and makes friends with young zoo visitors—including the son of A.A. Milne, whose books made Winnie a celebrity in her lifetime. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/10/2014
Release date: 01/20/2015
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