A soldier’s pet becomes famous.
During a short stop on a train ride across Canada during World War I, veterinarian-turned-soldier Harry Colebourn buys an orphaned bear cub he sees at a station. He names her Winnipeg for his company’s hometown; it’s quickly shortened to Winnie. He and his fellow soldiers take her along to England and keep her as a pet until the company leaves to fight in France. Harry finds her a home at the London Zoo, where she entertains generations of children, including young Christopher Robin, who renames his bear after her. Though she mentions A.A. Milne’s book, Walker’s narrative focuses on the bear. Opening and closing spreads of black-and-white photographs attest to the story’s truth; the misty edges of Voss’ ink-and-watercolor illustrations, from vignettes to full-page spreads, suggest its place in history. Readers see the appealing bear clinging to Harry as a young cub, climbing all over him in a game of “hide-and-seek-biscuits,” looking at them apprehensively over Harry’s shoulder during the ride to the zoo, and, fully grown, being hugged and ridden by children. An author’s note expands on Harry’s story and adds some facts on black bears and Milne’s children’s books.
Ideal for Winnie-the-Pooh fans, this clear, straightforward biography reveals the bear behind the tale. (sources, websites) (Informational picture book. 4-8)