The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal
I don’t review children’s books as a rule, but every now and then something comes to my attention and I am compelled to share it. I absolutely fell in love with this book. A short explanation first…
Every year I like to look at the Newbery Award and Caldecott Medal winners. They are always excellent children’s books and this year was particularly exciting. According to CNN, Matt de la Peña is the first Latino author to win the Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children’s literature for his book “Last Stop on Market Street,” illustrated by Christian Robinson. It’s a lovely book.
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Finding Winnie is beautifully illustrated, but it was the story that moved me to write about it here.
The author, Lindsay Mattick, is the great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn, and as the back flap of the book tells us, she “grew up thinking of Winnie-the-Pooh as her own great-grandbear.” Captain Colebourn was a veterinarian in Winnipeg, Canada, and went into the army during WWI to take care of the horses. On a train ride, he saw a trapper with a bear cub sitting at the station. He offered the trapper $20 for the cub, and named her Winnipeg, Winnie for short. She became the camp mascot. Eventually Harry was being shipped out overseas and took the cub with him, but he knew he couldn’t take her into a war zone.
Harry gave the bear to the London Zoo, where a little boy befriended the bear. That boy’s name was Christopher Robin and the rest, as they say, is history.
The book’s last pages are like a scrapbook, with photos of Harry, Winnie, the page from his diary when he bought the cub, and more.
If you’re a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh, (and who isn’t,) you will enjoy this amazing, engaging book.
I want my own copy – hear that, Little Brown?
2/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
FINDING WINNIE by Lindsay Mattick. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 20, 2015). ISBN 978-0316324908. 56p.