Book review: Finding Winnie: the true story of the world’s most famous bear; 5 out of 5 stars #bookaday

Finding Winnie book coverby Lindsay Mattick; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Non-fiction picture book
Interest level: Pre-K and up
Reading level: 3.6
5 out of 5 stars

This is probably my favorite picture book from 2015. Growing up I absolutely adored Winnie the Pooh, and in fact still have the stuffed animal that I played with as a child. So I was amazed to read Finding Winnie and discover that there really was an actual Winnie. Winnie the Pooh is REAL!!

The story begins with a mother telling her son Cole a true bedtime story about a bear. Harry Colebourn was a veterinarian who was leaving his home in Winnipeg to care for soldiers’ horses in WWI. At a train station he sees a trapper with a baby bear and he buys her from the man and names her Winnie, after his home in Winnipeg. The rest of the story details her journey to an army base, and eventually to her home in the London Zoo where she befriends a young boy named Christopher Robin Milne.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are clean and serene and are a perfect accompaniment to the mother’s story. There is a surprise connection between the boy, Cole, and Harry Colebourn. The dialog between the mother and son as she tells the story is set apart by italics and has a sweet and natural feel.

The back of the book includes an incredible collection of primary source material, which includes photographs and the actual diary page where Colebourn noted “Bought bear $20.” Be sure to take the dust jacket off the book and admire the beautiful sunset and silhouette illustration.

This book is appropriate for everyone, from preschool to old age. Fans of Winnie the Pooh will be enchanted with the information contained in the story, and young children will become new fans. This book is an incredible delight!

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