Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Book Review Club (September 2016)

It's September and our first Book Review Club meeting of the fall. Welcome! I hope everyone had a marvelous summer and managed to fit in lots, or at least some, reading. A little literary trivia about September: Shakespeare didn't use this month in any of his plays. And now onto our book reviews!

Child #4 enjoying FINDING WINNIE by Lindsay Mattick
FINDING WINNIE: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear
by Lindsay Mattick *
illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

This picture book is the true story of Winnie the Pooh. Which I know sounds a bit odd because how can you have a true story about a fictitious bear? Well, here's how...

One August day in 1914, a vet named Harry Colebourn from Winnipeg (remember this city!), Manitoba, Canada boarded a train with a whole horde of other soldiers headed to WWI.  The train stopped in White River, Ontario. The vet disembarked to stretch his legs and met on the platform a trapper with a brown bear cub. The vet (who loved animals as most vets probably do) gave the trapper $20, then re-boarded the train with his new cub. I believe this is what we call A Sign of the Times. I'm pretty sure nowadays people would frown if you tried to board a train with a bear cub.

Anyway, the vet named his new cub Winnipeg, " we'll never be far from home." Awww. She was called Winnie, for short. Winnie became the Mascot of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. The bear sailed to England with her brigade, but the vet felt France might be too dangerous. So he found Winnie a home at the London Zoo.

And guess who liked to visit the London Zoo? AA Milne and his son, Christopher Robin! Christopher Robin regularly went into the exhibit to play with Winnie. Another Sign of the Times.

And there you have it (well, minus a load of details, which are in the book) .... "the true story behind the world's most famous bear."

The story is delightful. The illustrations are, too. This book won the 2016 Caldecott. I also loved the real photos at the back of the book: various people, Winnie, memorabilia (such as Harry's diary). Here is a link to some of those pictures. 

*Lindsay Mattick is the great-granddaughter of Vet Harry Colebourn.

**$20 Canadian in 1914 would be worth $473.05 Cdn or $368.33 US now. Roughy speaking.

(Dear FCC: I have one word for you: LIBRARY)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Jody Feldman: A RIDDLE IN RUBY by Kent Davis (MG, action/adventure)

Stacy Nyikos: THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY by Jaleigh Johnson (MG, fantasy)

Sarah Laurence: WRECKED by Maria Padian (contemporary YA)


Ellen Booraem: THE BURIED GIANT by Kazuo Ishiguro (historical fantasy)

Patti Abbott:  MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout (literary)

Linda McLaughlin: A DESPERATE FORTUNE by Susanna Kearsley (romance)

Scott Parker: REPLAY by Ken Grimwood (SF/Fantasy/Time Travel)


Ray Potthoff: ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Ron Chernow (biography)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. I had the good fortune of meeting Sophie Blackall and hearing her speak in August (apparently, a Shakespeare-approved month). And the book is sitting right here. Lovely!

  2. Ha! Did not know that Shakespeare had an aversion to September. It's one of my favorite months in Maine and in England. Maybe the weather was too nice for drama? Then again your blog didn't like September either. Could it be cursed?

    It was fascinating hearing more about the real Winnie. I loved the link to the photos. Thanks for hosting!

  3. What an interesting story! Thanks for reviewing this delightful book. I love the Canadian part of the story. Boy have times changed in the last century, LOL.

  4. I like this story! Great review. :)

  5. I want a relative that inspired something famous. Where do we sign up for those? Or, do I need to be Canadian? :-) Check your geneology, Barrie. No idea what might be lurking in the folds of history.

  6. I think I've read a version of Winnies story before but each time it twinges the heart...:)

  7. How fun! I remember someone else told me about this book too.

  8. Sarah: Yes, apparently both Shakespeare and I have an aversion to September! Glad you enjoyed the real photos. I loved them, too. And you're welcome re hosting :)

  9. Linda: I know crazy, eh...about Winnie for Winnipeg. I had no idea. And, yes, times have changed. ;)

  10. Lucy: glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for making the rounds of the reviews!

  11. Stacy N: I wish wish wish I knew of someone famous in my genealogy! Someone I could write a cool picture about. Sigh.

  12. Trout birder/Ray: Until I started to a little research for this review , I didn't realize there were other books on the same topic. It is a great story, and I does tug at the old heartstrings.

  13. Stacy: Hi! Thanks for making the rounds of the reviews! I'd heard of this book, too, but it took me a little bit to get around to reading it. Often the way... :)


Comments are always welcome!