Heres a fascinating story for all those kids, young and old, who
have loved Winnie-the-Pooh.
Title: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
Written by: Lindsay Mattick
Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Little, Brown and Company, 2015, nonfiction, 56 pages
Suitable for ages: 3-6 (I would put it at 6-10)
Themes/topics: bears, pets, World War I, Winnie-the-Pooh
“Could you tell me a story?” asked Cole.
“It’s awfully late.” It was long past dark, and time to be asleep. “What kind of story?”
“You know. A true story. One about a Bear.”
We cuddled up close.
“I’ll do my best,” I said.
Brief synopsis: (from Worldcat.org) A woman tells her young son the true story of how his great-great-grandfather, Captain Harry Colebourn, rescued and learned to love a bear cub in 1914 as he was on his way to take care of soldiers’ horses during World War I, and the bear became the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.
Activities and Resources:
Educator’s Guide: http://media.hdp.hbgusa.com/titles/assets/reading_group_guide/9780316324908/EG_9780316324908.pdf
Compare and contrast another book on the same topic: Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, written by Sally M Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss, Henry Holt and Co., 2015
Why I like this book:
Authors and children alike often wonder where the idea for a character came from. Here, in the story of Winnie-the-Pooh, we learn that long before this famous story-bear began its adventures, there was a real bear which became the mascot of a unit of Canadian soldiers in WWI. So on the way to the beloved character, we experience history, meet a soldier with a love for animals, see the zoo that connects the bear to another generation, and hear of a boy named Christopher Robin with a grand imagination. It’s a rich example of how setting and situation affect lives and connect people across time and place.
The length of the text is beyond the attention span of very young children. With so much potential for discussion, further exploration and extension, it’s really a perfect choice for lower middle grade as well as upper elementary students.