By Mira Reisberg
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall tells a heartwarming tale of how a Canadian veterinarian picks up and cares for a young bear cub that later becomes the inspiration for the Winnie the Pooh stories. The story is narrated by Lindsay herself as she tells a bedtime story to her young son Cole, starting with Cole’s great-great grandfather Captain Harry Colebourne joining the Canadian World War Two effort as a veterinarian. But rather than following Harry, the story follows the young bear cub Harry picks up at a train station that he names after his hometown of Winnipeg, nicknamed Winnie. We tag along with Winnie on her journey from Canada to England, from Harry’s care to the London Zoo, and eventually to her friendship with AA Milne's son Christopher Robin Milne.
Lindsay’s story is told in an intriguing way—having a narrator tell a story to their child from a relative’s point of view, only to find out halfway through that the story follows a different character after all. So it's really two stories back to back and three if you include teh story of the relationship between the mother and the child.! And the language is beautiful, listen to this, "The train rolled right through dinner and over the sunset and around ten o'clock and into a nap and the next day, until it stopped at a place called White River."
The back matter in Finding Winnie is also fantastic—historical photos, notes, record cards—it’s all there to help bring the story to life. It’s a truly wonderful way to show where the inspiration for one of the world’s most beloved children’s characters came from while also exploring deeper themes of history, war, animal care, and family love.
Sophie does a fantastic job of illustrating Winnie’s story with a very natural palette, working with shades of brown, grey, blue, green, pinks, and yellow. Her full spreads of landscapes are truly awe-inspiring showcasing her mastery of portraying near and far distances in a small amount of space, encouraging the idea that readers are really looking out across the countryside.
Here's a wee video show and tell about this wonderful book. For some reason a little bit of the right side is cut off but am working on it. Sigh. Still, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this book and video review. And please share it with your friends.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at the Children's Book Academy. Mondays with Mandy or Mira is now the Blogfish!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays will feature award-winning former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature reading specialist and MFA in creative writing graduate Mandy Yates has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
And 5th Mondays will feature will feature the fabulous Carl Angel, award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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