Review: Finding Winnie

Finding WinnieFinding Winnie

Written by Lindsay Mattick

Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall

Little, Brown, and Company; 2015, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 5-9

Genre: Non-Fiction

Theme: Storytelling, Families, Friendship

How We Discovered This Book: Finding Winnie recently won the Caldecott Award, and I was thrilled to see it in the new book bin at our library.

Summary: The great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn (Lindsay Mattick) wrote this story about how her great grandfather adopted a bear during his deployment to World War I. He named the sweet bear Winnipeg (Winnie) after his home town. After Harry gave her to the London Zoo when he was shipped off to France, Winnie became friends with a young Christopher Robin Milne and became the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.

What I Liked: The story is framed as Lindsay (the author) tells her son a bedtime story. He asks for a true story, and she tells him the story of Harry and Winnie while interweaving interesting details that put you right into the story. The last several pages of the book are actual photos of Harry, his regiment, Winnie, and Christopher Robin. The photographs add another level to the story, and remind the reader of the reality of the story.

What Did My Kids Think? In the first week we had this book in our home, my kids requested it for bedtime reading every night. We were amazed at all the things that had to happen for Winnie the Pooh to be named – Harry happened to meet and buy Winnie, his regiment allowed Winnie to be adopted as their mascot, the London Zoo took Winnie in, and Christopher Robin became friends with her (after he was allowed to play in her enclosure!). My son still wonders where the “Pooh” part came from, but I guess that’s another story for another time.

Resources:

The DIY Homeschooler has printables, activities, and more history about the origins of Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

Choose a favorite stuffed animal or doll from the classroom or your child’s bedroom, and develop some creative stories about where their name might have come from.

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Our Favorite Books of Winter/ ALA Awards

Happy winter day! Here in the Northeast US, this winter has been a mix of sun, wind, and more temperate days. We finally got enough snow to play in last week, so we’ve been in the mood for some picture books about winter and snow. Since winter has come around every year since the beginning of time, it makes sense that we enjoy both classic and contemporary snow/winter books.  Here are some of our favorites:

  • The Mitten, Jan Brett
  • Katy and the Big Snow, Virginia Lee Burton
  • Snowmen at Night, Caralyn Buehner
  • The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
  • Owl Moon, Jane Yolen
  • Snowballs, Lois Ehlert
  • The Snow Cat, Dayal Kaur Khalsa
  • Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson
  • Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Penguin and Pinecone, Salina Yoon
  • Jack Frost, William Joyce

What are your favorite winter picture books? Do you love a book that’s not on this list?

The other great thing about this time of year is the announcement of the American Library Association (ALA) Book and Media Awards. You can find the complete list on their website, but I wanted to highlight a few of the awards here. This was an unusual year for the John Newbery Medal, which frequently goes to a middle grade or young adult novel. This year it went to a picture book, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. This story about a boy riding the bus with his grandma not only won the 2016 Newbery Medal, it also earned a 2016 Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Christian Robinson. Congratulations to Matt de la Peña, Christian Robinson, and all the other award winners!

Have you read Last Stop on Market Street? Did you enjoy it? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments!

Joint Book Review: The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordecai Gerstein

CM_between_towersToday we’re trying something different–a joint book review of The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. This Caldecott Award winner follows the true story of Philippe Petit’s historic tightrope walk between the World Trade Center Towers.

It’s 1974, and construction of the World Trade Center is nearing completion. Enter Philippe Petit, a street performer. To him, the gap between the two buildings would be the perfect place to walk a tightrope. With a beautiful progression of illustrations, including some fold out pages that enhance the height of the towers and of the wire, the story follows Philippe as he faces numerous challenges in attempting his goal.

Joanna: My five-year-old son Karsten frequently requests this book at bedtime, and it is a joy for me to read. Part of the appeal is my connection to New York City and the WTC Towers themselves. Growing up outside New York, they were an iconic part of my childhood. I’ve been up them only once–a few months prior to the 2001 attacks. This book is a wonderful commemoration to Petit’s feat as well as to the WTC tragedy and the spirit of New York. It’s also a great story about having a dream and making it come true against the odds.

Katie: Interestingly, my kids had different reactions to this book. They did not know anything about Philippe Petit, so as he planned his walk between the Twin Towers, the suspense kept building. They were both asking, “Does he make it?” There was a sigh of relief once he did. My four-year-old daughter was a little too afraid of him falling to enjoy the middle of the book, but my son was thrilled to find out how it turned out.

There is a documentary called Man On Wire about Petit’s extraordinary feat. Comprised of interviews with the people involved, including Petit, it’s quite interesting. Petit might come off as self-centered and perhaps a touch crazy, but what he accomplishes is nothing short of amazing. Not sure I’m ready to show it to my young son yet but I definitely will in the future. (Note: it received a rare 100% from Rotten Tomatoes!)

If you want to delve even deeper into Philippe Petit’s life and his accomplishments, a full length novel is available. In the current printing it is called Man on Wire, and before the documentary it was called To Reach the Clouds. Philippe Petit himself penned several books about his life as well.

If you’re a teacher, here’s a lesson plan from Scholastic. Or if you watch BookFlix (available through your public or school library), there is a nice read aloud of the book.

Author Review: Peter Brown

Instead of selecting one book this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about an author. Okay, so Peter Brown isn’t only an author–he also illustrates. And not just any illustrator–the 2013 Caldecott Honor winner for Creepy Carrots! I first heard him speak at the 2012 SCBWI winter conference in New York City. I hadn’t read any of his books prior to that, and while he seemed like a nice (and kinda hip) guy, I can’t remember running out to get any of his books after the conference. Then, while browsing at our local library, I found The Curious Garden. I’ve been enjoying his brilliance every since. Here are a few of my favorites.

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The Curious Garden follows a young boy who discovers a pocket of bright green plants growing in his otherwise dull gray city. He cares for the plants, training himself in gardening. Under his attention, the garden expands, transforming the city. I suppose, it’s kind of a true story, in a way. NYC’s High Line Trail is an elevated railway converted into green walking space. Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail is also being developed. So cool! All making The Curious Garden a poignant tale for showing what can happen with just a little bit of love.

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Mr. Tiger lives in a pseudo-Victorian world where all the animals are uptight. It’s no fun, so Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! The illustrations here are simply gorgeous–and they won Brown a Bull-Bransom Award, a yearly award for the best in children’s book illustration that focuses on nature and wildlife (given by the National Museum of Wildlife Art, in my hometown of Jackson, WY!).

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When my five-year old started kindergarten this fall, I got him Brown’s latest book, My Teacher Is A Monster! (No, I Am Not.) Bobby is convinced his teacher is a monster, and retreats to a park to unwind. But what happens when he runs into his monster of a teacher in the one place he can be free? Bobby learns that people can be quite surprising.

Here’s a few of Brown’s other titles, but the list isn’t exhaustive.

Creepy Carrots! (written by Aaron Reynolds)

You Will Be My Friend!

Children Make Terrible Pets

Chowder

Flight of the Dodo

If you haven’t already enjoyed Peter Brow’s creative brilliance, do it now!

Caldecott and Newbery Winners announced

This past Monday, two of the premier awards for children’s books were announced: the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. The Caldecott is awarded annually for distinction in picture book illustration. The Newbery is awarded for distinction in children’s book writing. You can learn more on the American Library Association’s website.

This year’s winners include:

Caldecott Medal: This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen

Caldecott Honors:

  • Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds
  • Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
  • Green, illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo
  • Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue

Newbery Medal: The One and Only Ivan, written by Katherine Applegate

Newbery Honors:

Congratulations to all of the winners! Looks like this is an extra good year for Jon Klassen.

So my mission today was to venture into the smallish Barnes and Noble in my town with my daughter, and spend some time looking through the books listed above. The only two I have read previously are Extra Yarn, and One Cool Friend (which we own). Unfortunately, my bookstore had NONE of these award winners. Very disappointing. I could go on and on how our Barnes and Noble needs to move into the space vacated by Borders so that it can have a proper selection, cafe, and places to sit… but that could be a whole post in itself.

So I will have to share my impressions on these books at a later time. I can tell you that both Extra Yarn (a tale about a girl who finds a magic box of yarn and proceeds to knit sweaters for everyone and everything) and One Cool Friend (about a boy who sneaks a penguin home from the aquarium in his backpack) are lovely, and are made even more charming by their illustrations.

Tomorrow I’m off to the winter conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and I should have much to tell when I get back. Have a great weekend!