Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Lindsay Mattick
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition
A mother tells her son a bedtime story about his grandfather Harry, who was a veterinarian in Winnipeg, Canada before World War I. Traveling as a soldier to the training field, Harry finds a man with a bear cub on the train platform and decides to purchase the bear, whom he names Winnie. The bear becomes a mascot for the soldiers, who all contribute to feed her. Harry trains her to do tricks and find hidden apples, and when it is time to ship overseas, he takes Winnie with him. Then the time comes to move to the Front, and Henry finds a place for Winnie at the London Zoo. After the war, Henry visits his bear and decides that she is happiest where she is. Years later, Winnie meets Christopher Robbin, and they become friends.
The author of this book is Captain Harry Colebourn's granddaughter, and her feeling for her son Cole and her family is tempered and avoids gooey sentimentality. The book is filled with warm, loving emotion and straightforward facts about a man, a bear, and a boy. The illustrations feature descriptive faces, and they mirror the words with the same warm, emotive feelings. The photos included at the end are an important part of the story as well. They bring veracity to the previous text. The gentle words that help Cole to understand some of the harsh things about the story are effective at getting the point across without ruining the story. Everything about this book is beautiful, direct, and sincere. Cuddle up with a teddy bear and a child if you can, and enjoy this deeply satisfying biography.