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

Winnie joins the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, croppedEnlisting!


Lindsay Mattick's Finding Winnie
illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Book review by Kristin Peck

Ages 5-10

The real Winnie the Pooh story

Winnie-the-Pooh is a household name throughout many parts of the world.

However, the facts behind the beloved storybook character and how he came to be are more profoundly defined in this delightfully educational book, Finding Winnie.

This is not a story full of Tigger and Piglet or the sarcastic remarks of Eeyore, but rather the tale of a veterinarian soldier and a bear he rescued from a trapper back in 1914.

Little did Harry Colebourn know but when he performed the impromptu rescue, he would be setting up inspiration for generations to come.

Winnipeg or "Winnie" for short went on numerous adventures that were less Hundred Acre Woods and more the battlefields while performing her duties as the "Mascot of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade." Yes "she!" Winnie was actually a female bear that traveled with the troops throughout their different calls for duty-based missions.

Harry Colebourn with Winnipeg 'Winnie.'

A constant source of entertainment, Winnie was well cared for and constantly supplied with a steady diet of anything the soldiers could scrounge up for her "except onions." But who eats those anyway? Raising the spirits of those around her, Winnie was even allowed to travel by ship overseas to England while accompanied by numerous soldiers and horses!

"Thirty ships sailed together, carrying about 36,000 men, and about 7,500 horses … and about one bear named Winnie."

As battles were won and lost, Harry Colebourn realized the dangers that he would be facing going towards the front lines and did not want to sacrifice Winnie's safety in order for her to tag along. Therefore, the story goes on the explain the process of placing Winnie in the London Zoo where she would subsequently meet a little boy name Christopher Robin Milne or as so many know him "Christopher Robin."

Finding Winnie - Enter Christopher Robin

As the connection between Christopher Robin and Winnie grew, inspiration budded in the heart of Alan Alexander Milne, Christopher's father and the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh series. Finding Winnie ends with a historical documents display showing real-life evidence that points to Winnie's existence and photographic support of Christopher Robin and Winnie's interactions together at the London Zoo.

Winnie with Christopher Robin. Cropped.(There are historic photos, too.)

Anyone who has grown up on the adorably innocent tales of Pooh bear and his best friend Christopher Robin will find that the true tale of Winnie's adventures and how she became particularly famous will strike a chord of nostalgia. The illustrations do not lack in detail and color and appropriately compliment what the story is trying to bring forth.

Beautiful landscapes transport the reader to different parts of the world, and while this is a period of war-time, the story stays focused on the bear while giving suggestion to the discomforts the soldiers faced and why Winnie was such a great joy to have around.

Finding Winnie is a thought-provoking way to allow your child to ask questions and gain insight to the world beyond the Hundred Acre Woods. The author Lindsay Mattick has carefully constructed a piece of her own history (she is Harry Colebourn's great-grandaughter) and shared it with the world in an inspiring story from start to finish.

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