Finding Winnie: The True Story of World's Most Famous Bear
Author: Lindsay Mattick
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie.
In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.
Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England...
And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin.
Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.
What I Think: I fell in love with this book the first time I read it. Of course, it's an award-winner and that usually means it's awesome but it really and truly is. As I read it was like cuddling up with Winnie the Pooh and learning about his story. I had no idea this was the story at all and it's so sweet. I read it with my kids and they were fascinated too.
I love how the gentle illustrations match the tone of the text...but especially how this is perfect for the context of the story as this is actually a story within a story. A little boy asks his mom to tell him a story and there are pages with them snuggled up together as she tells the story. It's just adorable. Even more wonderful is that Harry, the man who takes in Winnie seems like a very kind and down-to-earth sort of man. All in all, it just all comes together so well.
As a mentor text, I would pay attention to the tone and the mood and even pick a few texts to compare and contrast. Books like Tito Puente: Mambo King or The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors would be perfect to be able to notice the difference in how each of these books brings to life the essence of the people they talk about. Students can pay attention to how the text helps set the mood and how the illustrations do as well.
I also suggest looking closely at the details in the text and how the specificity of the description helps to bring the story to life. In the snatch of text students can look for alliteration and a metaphor as well.
Read Together: Grades K - 6
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 6
Read With: Tito Puente: Mambo King by Monica Brown, The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, Me, Jane by Jane Goodall, Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, The Right Word by Jennifer Bryant, Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess
Snatch of Text:
"If a horse had the hiccups or a cow had
a cough, Harry knew how to make them
feel just right. Harry's hands were never
cold, even in Winnipeg, where winters
are so frosty that icicles grow on the insides
of your nose. That was just the kind of
doctor he was."Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you helped someone and made a friend.
Topics Covered: Love, Family, Friendship, Caring, Kindness,
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