September 2017

Finding Winnie

Finding Winnie

by Lindsay Mattick

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

A Note from the First Lady:

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

Storytelling is an art form that dates back to ancient times and still has cultural significance to this day. The wonders of a good story can stimulate imagination, build connections and foster understanding. My favorite stories growing up were those of Winnie the Pooh and his amusing adventures with friends in the Hundred Acre Wood!

In this book, author Lindsay Mattick writes down one of her own family’s most interesting stories that tells us about the real bear that inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.  I hope you delight in the antics of this adorable bear cub and enjoy learning about the true and remarkable connections between the real black bear Winnie, Harry Colebourne, Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne, and the beloved Winnie the Pooh.

Crissy Haslam - First Lady of Tennessee

Fun Family Activities

Oral Traditions: Storytelling is an oral tradition that has been used in many cultures throughout the globe as a way to communicate, entertain, and pass down information from generation to generation. Storytelling began as a way for those who did not have a written language to pass information from one person to the next, but it remains a powerful form of communication today! What do you think makes a good story? What is the importance of passing down stories from one generation to another? What stories have been passed down in your family? Learn something new about your family by asking a parent or grandparent to tell you a true historical story from your family’s past!

Bears in the Wild: Winnie lived quite a remarkable life for a black bear cub! He traveled to different countries by train and boat, and he served as a ‘mascot’ for Harry Colebourne’s Infantry unit. Finally, he ended up in the London Zoo. How is this different from the life of a typical black bear? Learn more about the American Black Bear. What is a black bear’s habitat? What do they eat? How do they care for their young? Why do you think Harry Colebourne decided to bring Winnie to the London Zoo? Was this a good decision? Why or why not?  

Historical Significance: Harry Colebourne was a veterinarian, and during this story he served as a vet in the Canadian armed forces during World War I. Why do you think it was necessary to have veterinarians in the army during World War I? Make a list of all of the animals that you think Harry Colebourne might have treated or taken care of during his time serving in the army. Read this article to find out more about how different animals took part in the First World War. Do you think that has changed over time? Do you think it is necessary to have veterinarians serve in the armed forces today? Find out more about how veterinarians serve in our military today!

Further Reading: Finding Winnie is the true story that author Lindsay Mattick wrote about the real black bear that inspired the stories of Winnie the Pooh. Author A.A. Milne wrote the stories of Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. You can read all of the stories that Winnie the black bear inspired by checking out A.A. Milne’s books from your local library.