Sunday, March 27, 2016

Finding Winnie and its Historical Links

By Michelle Ule

This year’s Caldecott award went to a picture book that tells the true story behind a novel.

Finding Winnie is the charming story of the author’s great-grandfather and how he adopted a bear while traveling by troop train from Winnepeg, Canada, to  a port from which they sailed to England in the early days of  World War I.

The novel?

You probably don’t consider it as historical, but it’s Winnie the Pooh, first published in 1926.

For most of us, Winnie the Pooh is a whimsical joy in the Hundred Acre Wood with a boy, Christopher Robin, and his friend: Tigger, Roo, Kanga, Rabbit, Owl, Eeyore, Tigger and, most of all, Winnie the Pooh himself.

And that’s exactly how it should be as we read the beloved story and its sequels to our children, grandchildren, neighborhood children and spouses.

There’s not much in the stories that sets them in a specific time in history.

And yet, Winnie himself (herself?) was a real bear—and one Christopher Robin Milne knew in childhood at the London Zoo.

But how did an American brown bear end up in London?

That’s the story told in Finding Winnie.

My grandchildren loved it.

More than once.

Considering the author, Lindsay Maltick, dealt with a World War I story and made it fun—is a wonder, well deserving of an award.

The Caldecott is given for the “most distinguished American picture book for children,” of the year. That means the pictures are important. Sophie Blackall did a wonderful job.

Image result for finding winnieImage result for finding winnie

You can read the true story in my blog post, World War I Animals: Winnie the Pooh.

Or, you can get a copy of Finding Winnie to share.

Or you can visit the London Zoo, where to this day, they remember the officer from Canada who brought them a bear to keep safe--and by so doing delighted generations of children for many years to come.

Image result for winnie the pooh London zoo
Lindsay Maltick tells us about the book on a Youtube presentation here:

The Caldecott Award goes to Winnie the Pooh's backstory. Click to Tweet
A Caldecott for a World War I picture book Click to Tweet

Michelle Ule loves Winnie the Pooh and the true story of Captain Harry Colebourn because she loves history and stories. You can read more about her best-selling books, history, God's fingerprints and the writing life on her twice-a-week blog at:

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