Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults



A.A. Milne’s masterpiece, Winnie-the-Pooh, was published in 1926, and his book still entertains readers today. While many children know Winnie through Disney movies, when our third graders read Winnie-the-Pooh in their library classes, they are exposed to the richness of Milne’s prose.

To add further enjoyment and insight into the book, the children learn about the background to the story and the characters. It is more special for them when they learn that there was a real Christopher Robin, and that he was the author’s son. Even more interesting is that Christopher Robin’s real toys, including Winnie, are on display in the New York Public Library.

bookSally M. Walker’s new book, Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh (Henry Holt, 2015) adds to the richness of sharing the story of this special bear with today’s readers. Jonathan D. Voss illustrated this tale of the background of the real American black bear after whom Christopher Robin’s Winnie is named. Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian in the Canadian Army, rescued the bear cub after the cub’s mother died. Lieutenant Colebourn named the bear Winnipeg, after his army company’s hometown.

Winnipeg soon became known as Winnie, and she became Colebourn’s constant companion, harryeven sleeping under his bed every night. When the soldiers were shipped to England because of WWI, they brought Winnie with them. However, when Harry’s group was sent to the front in France, the soldier knew that Winnie would be in danger if she went with him. Colebourn made arrangements with the London Zoo for Winnie to live there.

Winnie shared this new home with other bears, yet she retained her gentle nature. Because bearshe was so accustomed to humans, the zoo even let children interact with her. That’s where A.A. Milne and his son, Christopher Robin met Winnie. Christopher Robin decided that his stuffed bear, Edward Bear, must change his name to Winnie-the-Pooh. …And generations of readers are happy that he did!


(Photos from Wikipedia)


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