Winnie the Pooh and the Caldecott Too

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I am in love with the newest Caldecott Winner Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

This book is best shared with older children in a classroom or individual setting, where an adult can share background information about the first world war and A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh.

Finding Winnie is a story about a man leaving Canada to fight in a war in Europe and adopting a bear cub along the way. Winnie, short for Winnipeg, becomes the mascot and morale booster of the regiment.

It’s also the story of young Christopher Robin Milne visiting the London Zoo and making friends with a bear.  He then names his stuffed bear, Winnie.  His father, A. A. Milne, wrote poems and stories about Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh,  creating one of the most lovable duos of all time.

The illustrations in Finding Winnie are extraordinary!   The front cover shows a bear cub curled up on a soldier’s boot. The back cover shows the bottom portion of a pajama clad child holding a teddy bear.

Inside the book is a visual feast. Blackall captures the war era with uniforms, period clothing, trains and scenery. At the train station, there is an emotional scene where loved ones are saying goodbye to soldiers. Another moving illustration has the soldiers marching head down in the pouring rain.

(Courtsey Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

 

Pictures of Winnie lighten the mood of the war story. The men are crazy about the cub. One light hearted picture shows Henry driving a jeep with Winnie enjoying the view from the front seat as the wind blows her hair back. Stonehenge and a primitive plane are in the background.

The last few pages are an album of World War One pictures. This section adds credibility to some of the less believable aspects, proving once again that truth can be stranger than fiction. For example, there is a picture of Winnie and Christopher Robin alone inside the enclosure at the London Zoo in 1925.

I was intrigued enough by this book to visit Sophie Blackall’s website.  http://www.sophieblackall.blogspot.com/ It was well worth the visit. She took great pains to make the pictures historically accurate, using archival pictures to create her own original illustrations.   She shows the sources of  most of her work.

Lyndsay Mattick, the author of this book, is the great granddaughter of Henry Coleburn, the soldier who adopted Winnie. In the book, she is sharing his story with her son, Cole. Personally, I didn’t think this was the strongest part of the story. Cole appears to be about three, much too young to comprehend the historic details, the length of the text and the highly detailed drawings.

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Vespers

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.
God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.
Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.
It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I’m there at all.Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said “Bless Daddy,” so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers

A.A. Milne

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Winnie the Pooh and the Caldecott Too

  1. Pingback: Winnie the Pooh and the Caldecott Too | LibrarianLou's Blog

  2. We enjoyed this story so much last semester. A.A. Milne is a huge favorite around here. I’ve never heard of the Curious George book that you mention in this post, but we’re on WWII right now so I’ll have to find it for my little guys. Thanks, Lou!

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