Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Written by Lindsay Mattick

Publisher’s Summary:
Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. And she was a girl!

In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.

Harry Colebourn’s real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey–from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England…

And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin.

Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.

Primary Source Pairing:
For many children, Winnie the Pooh is a lovable, yellow cartoon bear, and perhaps to some, a beloved character in A.A. Milne’s books. To Harry Colebourn, Winnie was a pet, a friend, and a distraction from the realities of war. The real Winnie was a bear who had quite the story to tell, and who was loved by many in Harry’s life and later at the London Zoo.

Alternatively, invite students to study the images in the Album in the back of the book. Within this Album are primary sources from Harry’s life including his photograph, handwritten diary pages, photographs of Harry, Winnie, and the soldiers, and the official Animal Record Card from the London Zoo. Use the Primary Source Analysis Tool for Photographs and Prints or the Primary Source Analysis Tool for a Manuscript to analyze these primary sources.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What can you learn from examining this image?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Image of Harry and Winnie: Workingham Remembers website