HarperCollins Canada offered me the opportunity to speak with Beach resident Lindsay Mattick, the author of Finding Winnie. Mattick is the great-granddaughter of the soldier that found the bear Winnie, who inspired the book series.
1. When/how did you first hear the story of Winnie-the-Pooh?
It is very surprising to people that I didn’t grow up with this story or the Winnie-the-Pooh stories the way (her son) Cole will. I read the Winnie-the-Pooh stories when I was about eight or nine. Our family’s connection to Winnie was underplayed for many years until there was a newspaper article that claimed Winnie belonged to another city’s regiment. At that point my grandpa, Fred (Harry’s son) set about ensuring the world knew Winnie’s connection to Winnipeg, and his father’s place as her owner. When I was 12, I helped unveil a statue of my great-grandfather and Winnie and we celebrated the story as a family.
2. When you heard the stories, did you think it was a great bedtime story or did you always believe it to be real? Why?
I was a bit older so I always understood the story to be true. Incredible, but true.
3. When did you decide to write Finding Winnie? Why?
I first had the idea to tell my family story as a children’s book about a decade ago, but then got distracted with other projects. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I felt an immediate sense of urgency (dare I say, panic?). I remember sitting down with my laptop to write in a cafe in Costa Rica and what came out first was the book’s now dedication to my son. While I didn’t know it at the time, that dedication would shape the narrative of what became Finding Winnie. I was also very inspired by a book called Polar the Titanic Bear about a stuffed bear that traveled on the Titanic. I loved the way the story’s illustrations were intertwined with old photographs and material. I knew that I wanted to share our family’s amazing photographs of Harry and Winnie in the book to remind children just how real and beautiful this story truly is.
4. How old is Cole now? Do you have more than one child?
Cole is my only son. He turned three at the end of August.
5. When you wrote the story, why did you present it the way you did – telling a story to Cole?
Cole is short for Colebourn. This story has always been a source of inspiration for me: it serves as a reminder that one small, loving gesture can have a huge impact on the world. I wanted Cole to carry that idea with him his whole life. Framing the story as a bedtime story where Cole learns where his name comes from was a natural and fitting way into it.
6. I am assuming this is a shortened version of the true story. What parts did you leave out and why? Will they be in the movie? (It was recently announced RatPac Entertainment is making a movie about the book).
This is the story as I know it, but there are likely many elements of it that we don’t know, and will never know as Harry is gone. As far as a movie, I think there are many elements to explore and I’m excited to see how it will be brought to life as a feature film.
7. Winnie was raised by humans since she was young, but she was still a wild animal. Do you know if she had any wild animal moments (I can’t get my head around leaving a child with a bear, raised by humans or not.)
I know! Can you imagine letting a five year old inside a bear enclosure to ride on its back?! Unheard of in 2015! This is one of the questions I always think about it…but from what I’ve read, Winnie had an exceptional nature. There was an article written by a zookeeper back in the 1930s that said that Winnie was the only bear they ever trusted entirely. I like to think my great-grandfather’s special way with animals contributed to that.
8. Do you know how old Winnie was when she died? When did she die? Did the London Zoo do anything when she died?
She was 20 years old when she died in 1924 and there is a plaque in the zoo about her. Winnie-the-Pooh was first published in 1926. Today there is a statue of her with my great-grandfather (a replica of the one in Winnipeg).
9. I read there is a RatPac Entertainment movie being made about your book. Congratulations. When is it being filmed? Released? Do you know the casting yet?
There is more news coming on the film front, which I can’t share yet, but is very exciting. Stay tuned!
10. Do you have a dream cast? Who would play Harry or other main characters?
That’s a hard question! One thought I had was Ryan Gosling – he’s a Canadian and a great actor. I am a character in the book so it would be interesting to see would be cast. My friends have suggested Reese Witherspoon or Amy Adams. I guess we’ll have to see.
11. I loved the pictures at the end of the book and would have loved to seen more.
I have a few more, but I definitely shared the best ones in the book. My favourite is the classic one where Harry is feeding Winnie with a baby bottle. I think it shares a tender moment that says a lot about their relationship.
12. What do you hope people will take away from this book?
I often say to my son that some of the best stories are true stories. And I think what kids will really love about this story is that…it IS a true story (and a pretty incredible one at that). Ultimately it’s a story about adventure. And about realizing that often to let one story begin, we must let another one end.
The book’s dedication to Cole – to remember the impact that one small loving gesture can have in this world – is really a dedication to all readers.
It’s the part that I hope will inspire people, as it’s inspired me.
Editor’s Note: Lindsay Mattick is correct. This story wouldn’t have happened in 2015. The fact that it happened at all is still unbelievable to me. I like how the story loops back to Cole. What a cool legacy for Cole.
How to Amaze Your Son
How to Amaze Your Daughter
How To Amaze Your Son has more than 50 truly creative and inspiring projects that will elicit “wow” and “cool” from the most skeptical of boys. There are crafts, science experiments, creative experiences, and easy magic tricks. Each is cheap and easy.
Editor’s Note: What a fantastic book. My son and I love flipping through these books to see what creative thing we’ll make next. We made the door with a ramp staircase and a ghost, which floats in the air. There are some duplicates between the girls and boys book, but enough differences you’ll want both.
Get Set, Sew
DK Books, http://www.dk.com/ca/
The latest in Jane Bull’s successful series of craft titles, Jane Bull’s Get Set, Sew is a clear, fresh, enjoyable introduction to sewing on a machine. Jane’s friendly, jargon-free instructions and step-by-step photos will walk you through everything you need to know to learn how to use a sewing machine. Master sewing machine basics one at a time, then put newly learned skills to work with 20 simple sewing projects to make – including creative and original bags, accessories, cushions, and toys. Jane Bull’s Get Set, Sew includes templates, sewing patterns and everything you need to make your first sewing projects and lay the groundwork for countless creative fabric crafts to come.
Editor’s Note: What a great book. The pictures are bright and cheerful and the variety of projects is great for beginner sewers.
The Space Hero Cookbook
Breadstick Blasters! Smugglers’ Cupcakes! Intergalactic Birthday Cake! What better way to explore a galaxy far, far away than by cooking up some alien-inspired grub and cosmic crafts? With 30 space-themed recipes, bestselling author Barbara Beery provides full-color, easy-to-make recipes for your budding space cadet.
Recipes and crafts include:
Space Pirate Punch
Space Slug Slime
Gamma Ray Glow Jars and much more.
Editor’s Note: What a fun cookbook. I liked that there is spaced-theme recipes as well as crafts.
Other craft books
104 Things to Paint
Chronicle Books, http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
In the spirit of the bestseller 642 Things to Draw, this guided painting book is filled with fun ideas that will have artists of all skill levels reaching for their paintbrushes. Covering everything from the straightforward (a color wheel) to the curiously quirky (a hot mess) and with extra-thick textured pages that make it easy to paint directly inside the book, this is the perfect inspirational on-the-go art studio for beginning and seasoned painters alike.
Art Before Breakfast, A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are
Chronicle Books, http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Packed with the signature can-do attitude that makes beloved artist Danny Gregory a creativity guru to thousands across the globe, this unique guide serves up a hearty helping of inspiration. For aspiring artists who want to draw and paint but just can’t seem to find time in the day, Gregory offers five- to 10-minute exercises for every skill level that fit into any schedule.
Colour Me Creative, Unlock Your Imagination, My Story So Far and 50 Creative Challenges
From Instagram sensation Kristina Webb (@colour_me_creative) comes a completely original and unique book to inspire and unlock your creativity. Color Me Creative gives readers a firsthand look into Kristina’s personal life, including her exotic upbringing and the inspirational story of how, at 19 years old, she has become one of the most popular artists of her generation, with a following in the millions. Readers can then go on their own journey by completing the fifty creative, art-inspired challenges designed by Kristina herself. This book offers readers the chance to download the free Unbound app to access interactive features and bonus videos by scanning the customized icon that appears throughout the book, including never-before-seen home videos and videos of Kristina drawing.
DK Books, http://www.dk.com/ca/
The perfect reference guide to needlework, Embroidery is a comprehensive guide to inspire and inform sewers of all levels. Find advice on which thread, needles, or fabrics work with which techniques, and take a look at an incredible 200 stitches — with levels of difficulty, step-by-step instructions, and ideas on where and how to use them. This practical guide covers sewing tips for dressmaking, needlepoint, and embroidery stitches, with detailed information simply presented in illustration-rich pages. With Embroidery it’s easy to find exactly which stitch is right for your next sewing project.
Doubleday Canada, http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/imprints/doubleday-canada
An asteroid has hit the Earth: the end of the world is just beginning. Billy and his companions have been taking refuge in outer space to avert this catastrophe. But what will it take to survive?
This dramatic second book in an electrifying duology will have readers at the edges of their seats as they discover that survival above is as difficult as survival below.
Editor’s Note: I haven’t read the first book and it wasn’t a problem. Eric Walters impresses me. His books are so different, yet they are all great. I couldn’t imagine how much research went into this one. It is a depressing premise, but an interesting reading and great characters.
The Way We Were
Penguin Books, http://www.penguin.com penguin.com
‘He needed something else. He wanted more.’ Alice and Ben are a couple like any other bound together by love, work, children, familiarity and a shared sense of purpose. But when Ben decides to pursue a dream of his own, he brings devastation on his family and, as far as they know, their lives will never be the same again. Alice and Ben are now on different paths: she needs to put their shared life behind her; he needs to remember it to survive. So, what happens if they get a second chance? Can they – should they – go back to the way they were?
Editor’s Note: What an emotional rollercoaster. The characters were believable as was their heartache. Much like with Anna in Frozen, you didn’t know who you would choose – Prince Hans or kristoff (you know, before you realized Prince Hans was a lying murderer). In The Way You Were, you could feel Alice’s pain as she made her choice, neither of which were bad. Sadly, I have decided I don’t trust romance. The end was too much for me.
You Need More Sleep, Advice from Cats
Chronicle Books, chroniclebooks.com
Our feline friends have spent eons observing, napping, pondering, napping, and taking notes about the human condition. In between naps, they’ve realized that we humans could use some catlike guidance when it comes to handling the ups and downs of life. In this book they’ve condescended to share their invaluable wisdom in short advice columns such as Always Stay at Least 30 Feet from a Loved One” and “Never Let Anyone Dress You.” Whether it’s coping with romance, surviving a social gathering, or clawing your way to the top of the corporate ladder only to realize you can’t get down, the cats in this book will have you relaxed and ready to take on the world! Just after one more nap.”
Editor’s Note: I was expecting the stories to be much more funny. Saying that, they are short, easy to read and some offer the cat humour I was expecting. I particularly liked Stay Quiet Just Long Enough to be Taken Seriously (There is an old saying that goes, ‘Dog shut the heck up.’ Because the more dogs keep barking, the more they remove all doubt about their lack of intelligence.) And Befriend People Who Are Good at Thinga You’re Not. Like Opening Cans (there is a fine line between ‘friends’ and ‘staff’ and a successful individual rides that line all the way to the very end.)
Other new releases
Resilence and Triumph, Immigrant Women Tell Their Stories
Edited and Compiled by the Book Project Collective
Second Story Press, Second Story Press | Homepage http://www.secondstorypress.ca
This fascinating collection of personal stories from 54 racialized immigrant women who have made Canada their home over the last five decades. Women in their twenties to those in their seventies provide snapshots of their experiences of both welcome and exclusion, and paint a sobering picture of what has been – until now – a buried history. Faced with adversity, isolation, marginalization, patriarchy, and racism, the women outline their struggles, display their courage, and reveal the strength, inspiration, and resourcefulness that have helped them claim their place and make meaningful contributions to the nation.
Big Bear Little Chair
Chronicle Books, http://www.chroniclebooks.com
In this artful and deceptively simple book, master book creator Lizi Boyd is at it again. Using her inimitable style to expand upon a familiar concept, she has created a compendium of unexpected opposites that is also a charming and emotionally warm story about Big Bear, little bear, and the stories that bring them together.
Editor’s Note: I suggested my six year old could read this story, but instead I read it to him. It is a good book for little ones – simple text, lots to look at for parents.
Farrar Straus Giroux, mackids
Two young hikers set out to look for Yeti one day, and with the help of a bird friend, they trek further and further into the woods, sending letters to coax the shy creature out of hiding. But as their trip goes on, the hikers find that they have not prepared very well, and though their morale is high, food supplies are low, the forest is getting darker, and a snowstorm looms. Luckily Yeti is a friend they can rely on, and though he’s not ready to come out of hiding, he sneakily finds a way to get the hikers exactly what they need when they need it.
Editor’s Note: What a wonderful, nice story. I like Mr. Yeti. He is the kind of friend everyone should be. I liked the simple text. My son could read it, but instead we enjoyed it together.
I love You, Grandma!
Author Sheila Mitchell began journaling the experiences she shared with her grandson Tendani and this book is the result.
Editor’s Note: It’s nice to read a book about the fun things this grandma and grandson do together. The illustrations are neat – cartoonish, but some real elements made blurry. It’s also cool to see Toronto in its pages.
James to the Rescue (chapter book)
Henry Holt and Company, http://www.henryholt.com
In this Masterpiece Adventure, the second in a companion series for younger readers from bestselling author Elise Broach, Marvin the beetle is going collecting with his family. All is good and well until Uncle Albert gets hurt. Marvin needs James’s help to save Uncle Albert before it’s too late.
Editor’s Note: I couldn’t get past the fact there are beetles running around these people’s houses, stealing misplaced items to be used in their homes as decorations (like the Littles, but creepy bugs). My seven year old didn’t have a problem with it so it might be an age thing.
Ken & the Spider
Upon a Star Books, http://www.uponastarbooks.ca; http://www.kenandthespider.ca20
Editor’s Note: This book lost me by trying to humanize a cockroach. I cant’ find anything loveable about these disgusting creatures and near death is not good enough. Yuck.
Little Robot (graphic novel)
When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it’s all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!
Editor’s Note: Little Robot was my six-year-old son’s first taste of a graphic novel. There are very little words in this book. The little girl reminds me of Lilo from Lilo and Stitch (Disney) in both her looks, mannerisms and personality. I liked her! She is smart and thinks outside of the box. I like Little Robot, too. The other robots are a tad scary.
Lucy Tries Luge
Orca Books, http://www.orcabook.com/Lucy-Tries-Luge-P1068.aspx
Lucy has a new luge sled, but she isn’t sure about this unique sliding sport. You have to lie on your back and steer with your legs? The luge track’s twists and turns look pretty scary, too. But with her parents’ support and a bit of courage, Lucy jumps on her sled for a speedy adventure!
Editor’s Note: What a great book. My seven year old I read this often at bedtime. You learn a lot of the luge. Thankfully my son hasn’t asked to try it. We would like to read the others in this series.
Roaring Brook Press, http://www.mackids.com
Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd. One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle. When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.
Editor’s Note: Take away the bird, add a human or two and you have a very realistic story. I hesitated about reading this book to my son (I didn’t pre-read it so once I started to read it aloud and realized about the labelling, I wanted to stop reading, but my son didn’t want me to). He doesn’t yet know about nerdy or cool, but the story pulled it off. It’s amazing how we treat each other (and not in a good way).
Sing a Song of Bedtime
North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic
In this beautiful companion to Sing a Song of Mother Goose, Barbara Reid’s bright and tactile images illustrate a variety of bedtime rhymes and lullabies. This collection features 14 nursery rhymes to lullabies, including: The Man in the Moon; Starlight, Star Bright; Wee Willie Winkie; Diddle Diddle Dumpling My Son John; There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe; Little Boy Blue; Jack Be Nimble; Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Go to Bed; and Frère Jacques.
Editor’s Note: I used to do Teddy Bear while skipping – now that brought back memories. I love nursery rhymes and used to read them all the time to my son. These are even nicer as they have Barbara Reid’s amazing pieces in them. While parents are saying nursery rhymes by memory, they can look at all the details Reid puts in her work.
Roaring Brook Press, http://www.mackids.com
He’s tarnished and tattered and, worst of all, his heart’s broken. He’ll have to go to the Spare Parts Mart, dig through their parts, and find a new heart.
Meet Poptart, the robot. She’s energetic and smart and has her own ideas about broken hearts. “You just need a jump start!” And that’s how two robots who are nothing but spare parts meet and make each other whole in this riotous and rhythmic robot love story from the creators of The Ant and the Grasshopper and The Crocodile and the Scorpion.
Editor’s Note: We have read it several times. It’s not my favourite. Weird illustrations.
The Bear’s Surprise
Chronicle Kids, http://www.chroniclekids.com
Hibernation is over and Little Bear is ready for another adventure! But where is Papa Bear? Never fear, Little Bear will find him! Follow the curious cub through interactive cutouts on every page of this detail-rich extravaganza: into a bustling forest, deep beneath a mysterious cave, and en route to a rollicking circus in full swing. What will Little Bear discover when he finally locates his high-flying papa? The ultimate show-stopping, sweet surprise awaits in this third installment of Benjamin Chaud’s acclaimed series that includes the New York Times Notable Book The Bear’s Song and The Bear’s Sea Escape.
Editor’s Note: What a great book. There is so much to look at. We spent time just looking at each page and pointing things out. My son’s expression when he noticed the cutouts was amazing. He had to stop reading and point them out to his dad. We spent the rest of the book finding the cutouts and seeing where they went.
The Best of All Worlds, Seven multilingual stories translated into English and French
At One Press, atonepress.ca
The Best of All Worlds is a collection of seven multilingual stories written by Canadians for Canadians. The stories in this collection are written in Arabic, Farsi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Each one was then translated into English and French, accompanied by wonderful illustrations.
Editor’s Note: What a cool book. Each story is also written in the language it was originally told in. I like that there is both English and French translations, although my seven year old told me to stop reading in French and just read it in English please. That might have more to do with my pronouncation then his lack of desire for French stories. I also like the content page has the name of the story, in three languages, as well as it telling you what language the story was originally in. There is a variety of stories of a variety of lengths.
The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, a new way of getting children to sleep
Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin
Crown Books for Young Readers, randomhousekids.com
Do you struggle with getting your child to fall asleep? In “ The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep “ you will follow Roger The Rabbit when he gets help from Uncle Yawn and other friends to fall asleep in the evening. Your child is quickly compelled by the story and falls asleep when you read it or after. The story is in a lovely way sleep-inducing and helps children all over the world to fall asleep.
Editor’s Note: The story was long, but despite that my son wanted me to finish reading it. And although he yawned constantly, I am not convinced it was due to the story. There are parts where you can insert your child’s name, but for my son, that made the story more jarring. He sat up and asked where it said his name and I had to explain you just needed to put it in. The constant repeating drove me nuts. We may try it again.
You’re Here for a Reason
Feiwel and Friends, mackids.com
You’re here for a reason. If you think you’re not
I would just say that perhaps you forgot . . .
a piece of the world that is precious and dear
would surely be missing if you weren’t here.
Every person matters. Here, national-bestselling and beloved author Nancy Tillman shows readers how each of us fits into life’s big picture, and how the world would be incomplete without you in it.
Editor’s Note: It’s such a beautiful book – both the words and the pictures, yet my seven year old isn’t interested. I started it, he stopped it. I pull it out, he picks other books to read. I think he would like it if he gave it a chance.
Other kids books
Orca Books, http://www.orcabook.com/
Raven is cunning, aggressive and whip-smart – she’s had to be to survive. She was taken in at a young age by the boss of a car-theft ring, who rescued her from a life of hell. For too long she’s believed she owes him everything and used her uncanny urban climbing skills to train young recruits for what she believes are victimless crimes. Until Raven discovers that his compassion for the kids he wrangles into the ring is just a front, and they are all merely tools of his trade, nothing more. When he’s responsible for the death of Raven’s young “apprentice,” she finally sees him for what he really is and sets out to bring him down.
This column was originally published at insidetoronto.com