Review by Phoebe Courant
Finding Winnie is the curious origin story of the beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh. Lindsay Mattick begins her book with a young boy asking his mother to tell him a story. The woman begins to tell the story of a veterinarian named Harry Colebourn who is sent of to war to aid the horses of soldiers. At one train station, Harry spots a trapper with a bear and offers the man $20 for it. With his unique new friend Winnipeg (Winnie for short) he heads off to war. Eventually Harry realizes that the battlefront is no place to raise a bear and he surrenders Winnie to the London Zoo where she will be free to grow up loved and admired, and eventually meet a very important boy.
The artistic and literary qualities of this book are unique and effective in their use. The illustrator of the book, Sophie Blackall, appears to use a blend of watercolor painting and colored pencil to bring to life the story of Winnie. The colors used are not to vibrant, and work and play with each other well in each picture to create a softened, carefree feeling that represent the extraordinary bear. They also reflect what I would think to be the slightly muted, but beautiful, landscapes of Canada. Mattick works her narrative into the story in a wonderful way, there is not only one, but I would argue three story lines in this tale. It starts with the young boy (Cole) and his mother, goes into a quirky blend of narration that both tells Winnie’s story and carries on the storytelling qualities of a mother to her son, and concludes with a wondrous and somewhat unexpected ending that brings all of the stories together. On each page, the text is clearly separated from the images which only helps to enforce the feeling of storytelling. This story is a wonderful explanation of the origin of the most famous pooh bear. The illustrations of Sophie Blackall interact perfectly with the narrative of Lindsay Mattick, bringing to life the story of Winnie. This is the perfect book to share with children, and surprise them with its truth!
By Lindsay Mattick. I11. Sophie Blackall
Little Brown and Company, 2015
Phoebe is an intended art major, who was curiously born at 10:17 on October 17th.