a smackerel of Winnie-the-Pooh lore
April 10, 2015 by orangemarmaladebooks
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
published in 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
I am a huge Winnie-the-Pooh fan.
And as I have taken pains to point out in the early days of Orange Marmalade, this means I love the original Pooh stories. Not the Disney-fied Pooh Bear. If you have never made the acquaintance of this Bear-of-Little-Brain and his wonderfully-flawed, lovable companions, you should change that. Immediately.
For those of you who melt a little inside when you hear Pooh’s name, here’s a bit of his history you may not know.
It seems that just prior to World War I, Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to military training camp, spotted a bear cub at a train station. The cub was being sold by a fellow who had shot its mother. Harry bought the little bear and named her Winnipeg; Winnie, for short.
Sally Walker’s story traces Harry’s months with this charming bear as she traipsed after him, played and made mischief, snuggled under his bed, and entertained the soldiers at camp. My favorite part is their hide-and-seek biscuits game! So cute!
Eventually, because of military duties, Harry had to give Winnie to the London Zoo where her gentle ways enchanted throngs of zoo visitors, including young Christopher Robin Milne.
This brief history can be enjoyed by children ages 4 and up, and will likely fill in some details for grown-up Pooh Bear fans as well. An Author’s Note explains more for older readers/parents, and the endpapers are plastered in vintage photographs of Winnie, Harry, and the Milnes.
Don’t forget to eat a little something in Pooh’s honor, as well!
And P.S. — Another picture book telling this same story, written by Colebourn’s great-granddaughter, illustrated by the fabulous Sophie Blackall, is set to come out this November. It’s called Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing it. Just look at that winning cover!