CM . . .
. Volume 21 Number 20 . . . . January 30, 2015
$20.00 later Harry, an actual soldier in training with the Fort Garry Horse Regiment, a Canadian cavalry unit, becomes the proud owner of a black bear cub. A veterinarian, Colebourn feels he can care for her as she accompanies his regiment to their camp in Quebec. Harry names his new companion Winnipeg, for his hometown, which is quickly shortened to Winnie. Because of the cub’s gentle nature, he becomes a favourite mascot of this company where he provides a delightful distraction to the troops. Winnie even joins Harry’s company when they are sent to England during World War I. But when Harry is told that he will be sent to the front lines in Europe, he arranges to donate Winnie to the London Zoo. Her sweet disposition and tame nature endear her to the zookeepers and the visitors alike. One of those visitors is Christopher Robin, a young boy who quickly befriends the playful bear. He is so enchanted with Winnie that he changes the name of his own Teddy bear from Edward to Winnie. His father, A.A. Milne, is inspired by Christopher’s love for Winnie. Winnie triggers Milne’s imagination to first tell and then write stories based on this beloved bear, stories which becomes the basis for the highly acclaimed “Winnie-the-Pooh” series.
Winnie’s eventual destination was to be the zoo in Harry’s hometown of Winnipeg, but Colebourn decided to allow her to remain at the London Zoo. Winnipegers who read this book will feel a certain amount of pride in Winnie and even an emotional connection to origins of the famous stories by A.A. Milne. But truthfully, all readers and fans of the Winnie-the-Pooh series will be enchanted by this fictionalized biography which lends insight to the bear that inspired such cherished tales.
Through delightful, playful pictures rendered in watercolor with pen and ink, Winnie’s relationship with Harry, other soldiers and zoo visitors fairly leaps off the page. The colourful expressive drawings lend humour and sweetness to a gentle retelling of a true story.
This offering is enhanced by several actual photos of Colebourn, his beloved bear, his regiment, and author Milne and his son, which all add to the charm and authenticity of the story. Included are an author’s note, sources, and websites. What a wonderful opportunity for educators to read this biography in conjunction with a study of “Winnie-the-Pooh” stories. Children will be fascinated to learn about the bear behind this series.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.