Remember last year when word got out that our beloved Hello Kitty is not in fact a cat, but a little HUMAN girl? And you probably needed 10-15 minutes to process the news, and had to lie down for a bit and think about your life? We all went through that same struggle, don’t worry. So, now consider this new fictional animal news Part Two: our beloved Winnie the Pooh is not in fact a chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff yellow bear (who we figured was a dude, or even genderless). Winnie is actually a female black bear.
Take all the time you need to let this sink in, and circle back whenever you’re ready. You’re going to want to hear this story.
Here’s the Pooh Bear news, deconstructed. Canadian author Lindsay Mattick’s has a brand new picture book out called, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. In it, Mattick tells the story of her great-grandfather, Harry Colebourn, who was a WWI veterinarian on his way to London to treat battlefield horses. Just before getting on a train, he happened to spot a li’l bear cub tied to a pole, and “followed his heart and rescued [the] baby bear.” Colebourn named the bear Winnie, after his native home, Winnipeg, Canada.
Colebourn and Winnie became fast BFFs, and the two stayed together until Colebourn had to deploy to France. He knew Winnie couldn’t travel with him, so he took her to the London Zoo and asked if they could look after his cub. The London Zoo said yes, of course, and the two went their separate ways. Pause to cry a little bit.
Now dry those tears, because this story has a happy ending. Even though Colebourn left Winnie behind, she wasn’t alone for long. A little boy named Christopher Robin loved to visit Winnie at the zoo. Christopher Robin even re-named his own stuffed bear, “Edward,” to “Winnie.” And Christopher Robin’s dad? Writer A. A. Milne, who clearly took a liking to Winnie as well, because soon children everywhere were reading about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Woods.
This is certainly a story we have not heard before, and it’s now one of the best stories. On top of that, Mattick’s reason for writing it is sweet and simple. As she told NPR, “At some point, I knew I was going to have a child and I thought, there was no better way to explain to them this amazing family story than to do it as a picture book.”
August 24th 1914 marks the day when my great grandfather, Vet + Soldier Harry Colebourn, bought his bear Winnie before heading off to WWI. #canadianhistory #winniethepooh #100daysfindingwinnie #findingwinnie A photo posted by lindsay mattick (@lindsaymattick) on
If you want to snag this picture book for yourself, you better get in line. Currently, Finding Winnie is completely sold out on Amazon. At least there are still 49 shopping days till Christmas for you to get your hands on this book for all those little kids in your life — and a copy for yourself, too.
Image via Disney