You are probably familiar with a bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. I have grown up with Mr Pooh Bear. My family are all great fans. I, myself, think that he is the greatest philosopher that ever lived! Or didn’t live. Whatever. He is one wise bear!

IMG_2366Well, did you know that the Winnie-the-Pooh in the books was inspired by a real life bear? And did you know that there is a book about this real life bear?! Well, My Mom Person, bless her heart, has presented me with a copy of this book as an early Valentine gift! Isn’t that something?!

The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh
by Sally M. Walker
illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

published by Henry Holt & Co. in 2015

a non-fiction picture book suitable for anyone who loves Winnie-the-Pooh!

themes – Winnie-the-pooh, bears, animal rescue, military, World War I

It begins –
When Harry Colebourn looked out of the train window, he couldn’t believe what he saw: a bear at the station! The train’s stop would be short, but Harry had to get off and see the bear for himself.

Harry is a young soldier going off to training camp in Quebec during World War I. He is also a veterinarian and will be with the veterinary corps taking care of horses. The bear is a small brown orphaned cub that is up for sale. Harry buys the bear for $20.00 and hops back on the train taking the little thing with him. He names the bear Winnipeg because that’s where his company is from and Winnie becomes the company mascot. She goes everywhere with the soldiers and even sleeps under Harry’s cot!

IMG_2371When the war across the Atlantic starts to get worse, Harry’s company has to ship out to England. Winnie ships out with them. But when the war continues to get worse and the company is called to the front lines in France, Harry decides to leave Winnie with the London Zoo. She was so sweet and friendly that she soon became a favorite with London kids. One in particular, a young lad named Christopher Robin, was particularly taken with the little bear, so his father, Mr A.A. Milne, took him often to visit. Christopher Robin decided to rename his own Edward Bear, Winnie-the-Pooh. And the rest is history, as they say!

A special bonus in this book is the endpapers. They are real photographs of Harry and Winnie and Christopher Robin and Mr Milne. Fantastic!! At the end of the book is a kind of epilogue about Harry and Winnie after the war and a bibliography and links to some interesting videos.


Winnie was an American Black Bear. You can find out more about black bears HERE and HERE.

After reading this book about Winnie, the natural thing to do would be to read some Winnie-the-Pooh. And not those Disney books. The REAL Winnie-the-Pooh!

And to help you get in the mood here is Mr Milne himself reading from his very own book!

Now you might want to venture over to Ms Susanna Hill’s blog to check out today’s list of Perfect Picture Books. You’ll be glad you did!!!

 May you have a tiddly-pom weekend full of wonder!
Your friend
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37 thoughts on “Winnie

  1. I read an article about this book just the other day! It looks wonderful and Winnie the Pooh is my son’s favorite movie right now so it sounds like it’s something I definitely should check out!

      • 4-8-2015
        Dear Rhythm and Janet Mills, I don’t have an email for you and I I’ve been asked to write the Illustrator Tips Article for my local SCBWI Prairie Wind Newsletter. I’m writing an article on inspirational blogs to follow, and would like to include you in my review.

        I’d also like to use your masthead if that’s okay. I took a screen shot of it and can send you the image to review. Please let me know if all is okay here for me to share.

        I’ll be submitting my article next Wednesday, April 15th so please send me a quick email response at your earliest convenience.



  2. I think I remember Winnie was inspired by a real bear. Will have to read this and share it with my grown daughter who lived for Winnie books and movies as a child. And I have a grandchild who would love it. Great book for your school bag!!!

  3. Wow! Who would have thought they would ship a “mascot” bear from Canada to England? You are a great page holder and book recommender, Rhythm!

  4. You can’t imagine how great this is, Rhythm. My best friend since I was four in England sent me a memory box for my 40th and hers is coming up soon. I had no idea what to get her but she is or at least used to be a huge Winnie the Pooh fan. I must get her this book. Thanks so much!

  5. Well, this is all news to us! Mom never even knew that Winnie was a real bear! I love bears. I have a few of them in my toybox. I like to shake them and throw them to myself. Plus I sleep with them.

    Love and licks,

  6. I’m so glad you’re a fan of the real Winnie. Disney ruins everything. EVERYTHING!
    Cool story too. I wonder what the gentleman thought he was going to do with the bear if the army said, “Sorry, no bears allowed”?

    • I can’t say about EVERYTHING. But the Disney bear is NOT the Winnie the Pooh that I know and love. 🙂 And you pose a very good question. I have found that humans often “do” without “thinking.” hmmmm. Now that I think about it, I might be guilty of that myself. 😛

  7. I got to see the ‘real’ Winnie in an exhibition at the New York Public Library main branch. It was awesome but now I have to get a copy of this book as I too grew up with Winnie!

  8. What a perfect book, Rhythm! I remember how much your Mom Person loved reading all the Winnie the Pooh books to her little ones! I can only imagine how thrilled she was to find this little treasure. 🙂

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