February 5, 2016
Finding Winnie, The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Finding Winnie, The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
by Lindsay Mattick
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Little, Brown and Company
Cole and his mom are cuddled up together when she begins a story about a Canadian veterinarian named Harry Colebourn. Harry was a soldier, traveling with a train full of other soldiers. It was World War I and Harry was going to take car of the soldiers horses. The trained carried them on and on, stopping occasionally.
Once it stopped at a train platform where a trapper sat on a bench. He had a bear cub and Harry knew that the trapper wasn’t going to raise that bear cub. He thought and thought about how he could help the cub and finally bought it from the trapper for $20.00.
Harry knew his commanding officer wouldn’t be wild about the idea of the bear cub so he named her after their home, Winnipeg. “We’ll never be far from home…” The men called her Winnie. They helped care for her, bringing her food. Fortunately, bears it a wide variety of things. Then men gave Winnie a post to climb and Harry worked in the horse hospital.
When the men were done with their training, Winnie went with them to England. Harry just didn’t have the heart to leave her behind. Winnie ate and ate and grew and grew. By the time they reached the new camp in England, she was big enough to be a bother, even if the was still a very smart, very good bear. Harry wouldn’t give her up but then the order came for the men to go to fight. Harry just couldn’t take Winnie into war. Instead, he took her to the city to the London Zoo.
There she met a young boy. The boy had a stuffed bear that he loved very much but he’d never been able to pick a name, not until he met Winnie. And what was the boy’s name? Christopher Robin.
This is a nonfiction book written by the granddaughter of Christopher Robin. It is the story that she used to tell her own son Cole about how this American bear came to be in England where she met a boy named Christopher Robin and his father, A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh books.
Sophie Blackall has created illustrations for the book that have an old-time feel. I don’t know whether it is the soft colors or the character’s rosy red cheeks but these illustrations feel just right for a story that takes young readers back to a time to a very special bear. I’m not at all surprised that her work won the Caldecott Medal given by the American Library Association to one picture book a year for delightful illustration.
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, young and old, who is a fan of Winnie the Pooh.