This is a true story about ‘Winnie the Pooh’, the world’s most famous story time bear. The author, Lindsay Mattick, shares with her son, Cole, this family story she loved as a child. At the end of the story are family photographs and diary entries by Lindsay’s great-grandfather, Harry Colebourne.
Set in 1914 the story features a very young bear, on a trapper’s leash, sitting at the Winnipeg, Canada train station. Feeling sorry for the bear, Captain Harry Colebourn purchases it for $20. In civilian life, he is a veterinarian. Now as a soldier he will be looking after the horses that will take part in the War. At the soldiers’ training camp, this very friendly bear, now named ‘Winnie’, becomes the Mascot of the Secondary Canadian Infantry Brigade. But before the soldiers ship out to fight in France, Colebourn leaves Winnie at the London zoo. There young Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A A Milne, becomes great friends with Winnie. This inspired A A Milne to write the Winnie-the-Pooh stories for his son.
Harry Colebourn plays another essential role in this story. After the war, he returns to Canada, marries and has a son named Fred. Fred has a daughter named Laureen. Laureen has a daughter named Lindsay who tells us this story. Lindsay loved hearing about Winnie, when young and she now shares the story with her son, Cole, named after Captain Harry Colebourn. So ends this implausible but true story. Sometimes the best stories are true.
Sophie Blackall undertook extensive research to ensure her illustrations were historically accurate. She talks about her research and illustrations in four blogs available in the Resources listed for this book. She used China ink and watercolour on hot-press paper, and offers warm, soft colours. They reveal this era’s clothing, locations, architecture, trains and more. At the end of this 56-page book are reproductions from Harry’s photograph album featuring him as a young soldier and pictures of Winnie. ‘Finding Winnie’ features kindness and love that spans countries and generations. It is also a story about war and its consequences. It won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 2016.