by Lindsay Mattick
56 pages / 2015
It turns out that Winnie the Pooh, a teddy bear who had fantastic and entirely fanciful adventures, was named after a real bear whose adventures were quite something too, and of the genuine sort.
Just as Winnie the Pooh starts with a father telling his son a story, so too Finding Winnie begins with a parent telling her child a bedtime tale. In this case, the storyteller is the great-granddaughter of the man who gave the first Winnie his name. Harry Colebourn was a vet living in Winnipeg. When the First World War began Harry had to go, so he boarded a train with other soldiers and headed east. At a stop on the way, he met a man with a baby bear, and ended up buying the little beast. To make a long story shorter, this bear – named Winnie after Harry’s hometown – ended up in the London Zoo where a boy named Christopher Robin, and his father A.A Milne came across him and were utterly entranced.
It is a wonderful story, but what makes it remarkable is the charming way it’s told. This is brilliant, and a homage of sort to A.A. Milne’s stories. It’s true, so there is quite a difference between his Winnie tales and this author’s, but the same gentle humor, the same whimsy, that same charm, is there throughout.
This will be a treat for fans of Winnie the Pooh no matter what age. Both my daughters and I were entranced!
by Sally M. Walker
40 pages / 2015
The same year a second picture book came out about the bear behind the bear that was also very good, very fun, and different enough that after reading Finding Winnie it is still an enjoyable read as well.
Compared to most any other picture book Winnie is remarkable – really among the best of the best – but it does lack a little of the Milne-like charm of Finding Winnie, and so ranks second among these two books.