This sweet and fascinating book begins with a mother telling her son a bedtime tale about how veterinarian Harry Colebourn, a young Canadian soldier on his way to train for battle in Europe during World War 1, rescues a baby black bear from a trapper at the train depot. He named the bear Winnie, short for his home town of Winnipeg, and brought the bear with him to England. Winnie quickly became the mascot for the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade. When Winnie could not follow the Brigade to France for combat, Harry left his pet with the London Zoo.
That is far from the end of this tale! While on a visit to the zoo, a little boy named Christopher Robin (yes…THAT Christopher Robin, the son of author A.A. Milne) met Winnie and fell in love with that little bear. They grew so close Christopher was actually allowed to play with Winnie in her enclosure. Their friendship and the adventures Christopher Robin imagined for them became the basis for the famous, beloved Winnie The Pooh stories.
A bonus for me was finding out that the author, Lindsay Mattick, is the great-grandaughter of Captain Harry Coleman (the veterinarian that adopted Winnie). She is the mother reading to her son throughout the story. Mattick has written a beautiful, captivating book that I found very touching. The illustrations by Sophi Blackwell create a warm, cheerful and imaginative backdrop for Winnie’s story. Blackwell received the 2016 Caldecott Medal (awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children) for her beautiful illustrations.
Finding Winnie is a story that will be enjoyed by children and adults – a definite must read!