A mother tells a true bedtime story about the bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh’s name.
Mom tells little Cole about Harry, a veterinarian in Winnipeg “about a hundred years before you were born.” En route to his World War I muster, Harry buys a bear cub from a trapper and names her Winnipeg “so we’ll never be far from home.” Winnie travels overseas with the Canadian soldiers to training in England, but when they ship out to France for actual combat, Harry leaves her at the London Zoo. “That’s the end of Harry and Winnie’s story,” but another section begins, about a boy named Christopher Robin Milne who plays with Winnie at the London Zoo. Christopher Robin names his stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh after her, and his father—A.A. Milne, of course—takes the name and runs with it. Mattick’s prose has a storyteller’s rhythm and features the occasional flourish (repeating “his heart made up his mind”); Blackall’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations have a peaceful stillness that’s welcome in a book that, though not about combat, concerns the trappings of war. A photo album includes snapshots of Winnie with her soldiers and with Christopher Robin. The piece has something of a split personality, and the Winnie-the-Pooh angle comes so late it seems almost an afterthought.
Beautiful but bifurcated, with the two stories in one making it a challenge to determine the audience. (photo album) (Picture book. 5-8)