Travels with Sissy: A Bear Named Winnie

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The New York Public Library has the honor of protecting something priceless- the original stuffed animals that belonged to the son of  author A.A.Milne, Christopher Robin. The stories of Winnie the Pooh represent the importance of kindness, friendship, and unconditional love…interesting how those same qualities are the reason we have Winnie in the first place.

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During World War One, a young soldier serving as a veterinarian in the Canadian army saw a young cub for sale at a train station. The cub’s mother had been shot and the hunter was selling the cub for twenty dollars. The soldiers named the cub Winnipeg, after their hometown in Canada. When the soldiers were being transferred to the battlefields in Europe, Winnie was left on loan at the London Zoo. Visitors adored the little bear, and upon the soldiers return to London, they decided Winnie should stay at the zoo. She was officially adopted by the London Zoo in 1919, and lived until 1934.

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A father named A.A. Milne often brought his son, Christopher Robin, to the London Zoo to visit Winnie. Christopher loved the bear so much, he renamed his stuffed bear Winnie. Later on, he gave his bear the last name of Pooh- after a pet swan he had at his home near Ashdown Forest in Sussex. Milne was inspired by the collection of stuffed animals his son acquired, and so began the stories he wrote at Cotchord Farm. The Hundred Acre Wood became the setting for Winnie’s friends- Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga and Roo.

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A.A.Milne’s series of books about Winnie the Pooh became known across the world. In 1966, two young girls in America who adored Milne’s books about the ever forgetful yet loveable bear- inspired their father, Walt Disney, to make a movie. Many more movies were made and warmly adored by children and their parents. Today, Winnie the Pooh is ranked second after Mickey Mouse as the most loved and trusted Disney character.

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In a world where we are mesmerized by gadgets, and success is often defined by power & wealth, it’s comforting to know that Winnie the Pooh still reminds us what is precious. The kindness & friendship a soldier shared with a bear, and the unconditional love a boy taught his father- all began the stories of Winnie the Pooh… a bear who taught us how big the little things are.

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