|Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The wonderful story of the bear behind Winnie the Pooh. Beautifully written, excellent illustrations: it's a book which will be read over and over again. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 56||Date: November 2015|
|Publisher: Orchard Books|
|External links: Author's website|
A little boy called Cole wanted a story. He particularly wanted a true story and it had to be about a bear. It was getting late, but Mummy said that she would do her best. Her story began about a hundred years before Cole was born and it was about a man called Harry Colebourn who lived in Winnipeg. He was a vet and was on his way to Europe to look after the horses of the soldiers fighting in the Great War when he met a trapper with a baby bear: his head might have said that there was nothing he could do, but his heart told him to get hold of the bear and he gave the trapper $20. Winnipeg, as he named the bear, went on the train with Captain Coulbourn and his troop, across the ocean and finally arrived in England.
When the order came to embark for France Colebourn took the bear (who was really quite large now) to London Zoo - it wouldn't have been safe to take her to the battlefields - and it was in the zoo that she charmed generations of children for nearly twenty years. One of these was Christopher Robin Milne, son of Alan Alexander Milne - better know to us as A A Milne. One loving gesture would still be having an impact more than a century later.
It's not just a lovely story, it's beautifully written too. Just listen to the description of Colebourn's initial journey across Canada:
The train rolled right through dinner and over the sunset and around ten o'clock and into a nap and out the next day, until it stopped at a place called White River.
Isn't that a perfect description of the journey? The whole book has a similar, almost poetic feel to it, but there's nothing tricksy to the writing. It's beautifully clear. Some difficult subjects are glossed over - the trapping of bears, men going to war - but not avoided altogether. Children will ask for more information when they're ready to know about the subject. It's because of this approach that the book has longevity: it can be enjoyed as a simple story by toddlers, but older brother and sisters will understand what lies behind the tale. There's also a delightful reveal about the relationship between Cole and Harry Colebourn.
The illustrations don't just illustrate, they add to the story. The colours are subdued and very easy on the eye, but it's at the end of the book when we see historical documents that I was really blown away. In the main body of the book you'll see Winnie with Captain Colebourn and his men - at the back you can see the original photograph - and other photographs on which the illustrations are based. There's a picture of Christopher Robin Milne with Winnie - and if you look carefully you can see his father in the background. Best of all, for me, was the original Animal Record Card for Winnie's time at London Zoo.
It's a very special book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall at Amazon.com.
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