Thursday, February 4, 2016

LS 5603 20 Review: Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear
by Lindsay Mattick
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Title: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear
Author: Lindsay Mattick
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Genre: Picture Book
Publishing Information: New York: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 2015
ISBN: 9780316324908

Mattick, Lindsay. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. ISBN 9780316324908

Plot Summary: Finding Winnie is the story of how the character Winnie-the-Pooh originated. The story begins with a young boy, Cole, asking his mother to tell him a bedtime story. Despite being late, his mother tells him that she will tell him a true story about a bear. She then begins to tell the story of Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian who ends up being drafted into the war in order to help take care of soliders' horses. On the way to his destination, he comes across a man with a bear cub, and decides he wants to buy the cub. He names the small bear Winnie, after Winnipeg where he is from, and she becomes a bit of a mascot to the soldiers in his unit. Eventually, Harry must go overseas once again, and decides it is not safe for Winnie to be on the front lines. Instead, he takes Winnie to the London Zoo where he knows that she will be safe. After she had been in the zoo awhile, Alan Milne began taking his young son, Christopher Robin, to visit Winnie. He named his bear after Winnie, and soon his father wrote tons of famous stories about the pair.

Critical Analysis: Finding Winnie is a nostalgic and heartwarming picture storybook for anyone who has read and enjoyed books in the original Winnie-the-Pooh series. The tale told throughout the book is unique in that it seems to travel into the past and forward to the future seamlessly. While the book is a bedtime story being told to a child, it is easy to forget that and simply fall in love with the story that is being told. Winnie is a wonderful bear that you love, and Harry seems like a wonderfully caring man who was very endearing throughout the book. The story is easy to follow, though the text can be a bit long for those readers who may not be as strong with fluency or advanced vocabulary. 

The illustrations throughout the book are beautiful; some of the best that I have seen in quite some time. They are detailed incredibly lifelike. It is impossible not to linger on the pages simply to stare at these pictures. The characters are drawn in a way that is realistic, but still has a very cartoon feeling about them, which makes them interesting. The colors are vivid and draw attention when and where necessary. The drawings are added perfectly, and add to the overall experience of the book.
Review Excerpts: 

From School Library Journal: "Written by one of the descendants of the veterinarian that started it all.  Add in the luminous artwork of Sophie Blackall and you’ve got yourself a historical winner on your hands."

From Publisher's Weekly: "she proves that she’s equally imaginative at chronicling straight-on reality, too."

From Booklist: "Mattick’s family ties to Winnie-the-Pooh form the backbone of her cozy debut."

This book could be used for many different ways in not just elementary classrooms, but middle school classrooms as well. It can be used in these ways:
  • Focus on figurative language 
  • Work on advanced vocabulary
  • Mentor text for correct writing skills 
  • Use as a connection piece in a history classroom while studying WWI 

Other books that are similar:
  • Midnight, a True Story of Loyalty in World War I
  • Stubby the War Dog

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