Walker, Sally M. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. Il. Jonathan D. Voss. Holt. 2015. $17.99. unp. 978-0-8050-9715-3. Ages 4-8:
Although millions of children have followed the adventures of a hapless stuffed bear and his friends, few know the background for the 1926 book of short stories. Watercolors and pen-and-ink drawings are enhanced by photographs in the end papers to help tell the story of Harry Colebourn, who bought a black bear for $20 in a train station as he was training horses in the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps. Although the bear became a mascot for Colebourn’s troops and even went to England when they were shipped overseas, Colebourn had to leave the bear at the London Zoo because he was sent into World War I battlefields. The gentle beast became a great friend with Christopher Robyn, A.E. Milne’s son, and Milne used Winnie—named for Winnipeg—for stories to entertain his son. The heart-jerking tale is a superb companion to a children’s classic from almost a century ago. Author’s note and end sources. P9Q8
February/March 2015 review by Nel Ward.