Friday, February 19, 2016

A Look at Finding Winnie

by Leslie Colin Tribble


I was an avid reader as a child. My mother was a great reader and I remember spending many happy hours listening to her read to me, or later the two of us companionably together on the couch, each reading our separate books. Books were my life and my very favorite book was my Winnie the Pooh storybook.





I never played with dolls, instead I had a veritable menagerie of stuffed animals which were my constant companions. My parents gave me a copy of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and I was enchanted. These characters were more real to me than any person in a book could ever be. I was still enthralled when Disney came out with the first Winnie the Pooh movie when I was nine. I collected the stuffed animals (I still have Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger to this day) and lived and breathed Pooh. I could recite most of the book by heart.





Today, our library finally got Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall. This is Lindsay Mattick's first book and her gentle, lyrical text was absolutely perfect. Sophie Blackall is an accomplished illustrator and won the 2016 Caldecott Medal for her heart-tugging drawings. I got to it before it even went on the shelves for checkout.  


I LOVE IT!


Here's a review for our Grog Readers.


Finding Winnie starts with a mother and little boy (holding his stuffed bear of course!) in bed with jammies on, getting ready for sleep.


The boy asks for a story, a true story. About a Bear.





I was hooked and the text for the first page wasn't even finished. A story about a Bear, a capitalized Bear? This was my kind of book.


The story goes on to tell the tale of Harry Colebourn, a World War I Army veterinarian from Winnipeg, Canada. On a train station in White River, Canada, Harry saw a man with a bear cub on a rope. The rest, you could say, is history. 


Throughout the book, the narrative is interrupted by conversation between the mother and son, just as any night time reading is. Cole, the boy, asks many questions, as boys are wont to do. 


I love author Lindsay Mattick's quiet text and the way some of her phrases nod to the A. A. Milne classic. She calls the bear Special and Remarkable. 


There are some sweet words pictures in the text. The way she describes Harry and his relationship with Winnie is lovely. She gives us word pictures that are like frosting to the cake of the illustrations.






About halfway through, the story seems to be over and the bed snugglers have a poignant little conversation about the story ending. But the story doesn't end there.


The book goes on to make the connection to Winnie, Christopher Robin, and A. A. Milne. It's a beautiful story with a bit of a twist that I won't give away here.


You'll have to get your own copy and find out for yourself. You'll be glad you did. I'll be shelving this new Winnie next to my vintage copy.







13 comments:

  1. I read this with six 3rd grade classes last week. I also read Winnie by Sally Walker. They talked about how the authors chose different places to start their stories. They were very pulled in by the language and illustrations in Finding Winnie. And of course, they loved the personal connection the author had to the story. :)

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    1. Both books are so different. Yes, the Finding Winnie personal connection really was wonderful!

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  2. Love both these books. 5th graders I write with loved them also.

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  3. This is a wonderful book - and you present it well. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Sue, I really enjoyed the book!

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  4. Good job. I am glad I got to read it recently. Utterly charming.

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  5. The cover fooled me. . .I'm looking forward to reading this one! Thanks for your inspirational review, Leslie.

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    1. Thanks Jarm, the cover throws me as well. I hope you love the book!

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  6. I have this book and appreciate your review, Leslie :) Love the Pooh Bear <3

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  7. I also have kept my childhood edition of Winnie the Pooh. I raised my children in a home surrounded by a 100 acre walnut grove which, of course became the 100 acre woods. I'm getting Finding Winnie for each of my (now young adult) children. Thanks for this great review.

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    1. Oh Claire Annette, your 100 acre wood sounds wonderful! Thanks for your kind words.

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  8. I love this book!! (I also admit I have a creative crush on Sophie Blackall.)

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  9. Leslie, This lovely article has prompted such personal & sweet responses. I especially like each of these picture books about the origins of the inspiration for Pooh Bear as I once wrote a poem about it, for my thesis. They are both grand additions to the iconic Pooh libraries.

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