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Review:  Finding Winnie: the True Story of The World’s Most Famous Bear

Review: Finding Winnie: the True Story of The World’s Most Famous Bear

“Winnie the Pooh” and the “House at Pooh Corner” were often requested when I was growing up and it has been such a pleasure to be able to share them with my children.  With Finding Winnie, we get the story behind the story and my children were delighted to learn that Winnie-the-Pooh started out as a real bear.  Echoing the format of Winnie the Pooh, the book opens with a conversation between a mother and a little boy, Cole, asking for one last story… Just like Christopher Robin, Cole has lots of questions.  Cole’s questions though are about Harry, his great-great grandfather, and Winnie, a black bear cub, his great-great grandfather adopted on the way to Valcartier and took to London along with 36,000 men and 7,500 horses during WWI.  Winnie became the camp mascot and followed Harry everywhere, but when it was time for Harry to be shipped to France, Harry decided it was too risky to take Winnie and that is when the real Christopher Robin entered the picture. This is a wonderful story of an impulsive animal rescue that ended up being the inspiration for a series of stories that have thrilled generations of children, though perhaps the chagrin of the real Christopher Robin whom the public never allowed to grow up! If you’re planning a trip to Winnipeg or the London Zoo, you have to read Finding Winnie and of course all of the Pooh stories written by A. A. Milne.  In Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, there’s a statute of Harry Colebourn and Winnie as well as the Pooh Gallery filled with Winnie the Pooh Memorabilia.  The real Winnie the Pooh owned by Christopher Robin is on permanent display in the New York Public Library and at the London Zoo,  sure to delight any Winnie-ther-Pooh fans! If you’d like to add Finding Winnie to your child’s collection, click here:  Finding Winnie:  The True Story of the World’s Most Favorite...

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Review: Madeline-Paris with children

Review: Madeline-Paris with children

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”  Who doesn’t remember the opening lines of this childhood favorite?  Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans was first published in 1939 and four of the six original stories are set in Paris.  They are perfect for creating a tour and an introduction to some of the most popular sites in the city. In the original, Madeline, the twelve little girls in two straight lines leave the house at half past nine in rain or shine. Even a case of appendicitis doesn’t interrupt their routine much.   On their walks, you see the Eiffel Tower, the Opera, the Place Vendome, The Hotel des Invalides, Notre Dame, the Garden at Luxembourg, the Church of the Sacre Coeur, the Tuilleries Gardens and the Louvre.  The rhyming language is great for younger children and Madeline is very easy to relate to.  In Madeline’s Rescue, Madeline manages to fall into the Seine, much to the horror of Miss Clavel, the nun in charge of the girls.  Fortunately she is rescued by a quick thinking dog, but there is only one dog and 12 little girls.  Needless to say, there is more than enough love for the dog to go around!  Unfortunately, the board of trustees does not approve of pets and the dog must be sent away.  The girls aren’t willing to settle for that, and as soon as the trustees leave they all go looking all over the city for Genevieve without any luck.  Distraught, they return to the school; but late that night Genevieve shows up with her own surprise. Instead of going for an unexpected swim in the Seine like Madeline, we’d recommend a boat tour.  There are lots of options ranging from short tours to longer dinner cruises and a range of prices for different budgets.  Madeline falls into the Seine from Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris with a view of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in the background.  Madeline is carried past the Institute de France which houses the Académie Française, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Académie des Sciences, and Académie des Beaux-Arts.  When looking for Genevieve, they walk up to Montmartre.  They pass Les Deux Magots (which still exists),...

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Review:Mirette on the High Wire-Paris with children

Review:Mirette on the High Wire-Paris with children

“One evening a tall sad-faced stranger arrived.  He told Madame Gâteau he was Bellini, a retired high-wire walker.”  Imagine if you were a child living in a boarding house and someone arrived introducing themselves as “a retired high-wire walker.” They would seem like the most interesting person in the world! The next day, as Mirette is doing the laundry, she sees him walking across the laundry line.  Mirette is enchanted and asks Bellini to please teach her how to walk the high-wire.  He refuses, so she tries to learn herself.  After a lot of falling, she is ready to show Bellini what she has accomplished and after watching her efforts, he agrees to teach her.  One evening,  Bellini’s presence is noticed by a theater agent and the stories of Bellini’s great feats come out.  But Bellini has stopped walking the high wire.  He is afraid. Not wanting to disappoint Mirette, he decides to try one more act across the Paris skyline and he arranges with the agent to have a performance.  Mirette hears the commotion on the street and goes out to see the cause of the hubbub.  “Bellini stepped out onto the wire and saluted the crowd.  He took a step and then froze…”  Mirette is determined to help him, but what will she do and will it be enough? My son loved  Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully and was very excited to read it again on several subsequent nights.  We loved the changing perspectives in the illustrations. You see Mirette trying to balance from the side, looking up from the ground as if you were in the audience, looking down at Bellini as if you were on the high wire.  You couldn’t help but feel part of the story.  If you have a child working on conquering a fear, this is a great story of perseverance and the frustration on Mirette’s face as she tries to learn to walk the high wire is very easy to relate to for anyone who has struggled to learn a new skill.  If you’d like to catch a traditional circus act while you’re in Paris, try the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione, a winter circus that has been performing since...

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Make Way for Ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings

 Whether climbing to the top of a building or going on a balloon ride, the view is always better from up in the sky and you get to avoid the traffic!  Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live, “but every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good.”  After a long and fruitless search, the ducks decide to spend the night on an island in the Boston Public Garden, unfortunately, there wasn’t much for breakfast.  They had better luck after they encounter the swan boats, who were very rude, but the people on the boats threw peanuts…. The park was looking promising, at least until they have a run in with a bicycle!  So the Mallards go back to touring Boston.  Over Beacon Hill, round the State House, with a stop at Louisburg Square, Mrs. Mallard can’t find anywhere she wants to raise her family until they come across an island in the Charles River.  While a bird’s eye view of the river may be more challenging, one way to see the river is through a boat tour or simply through a walk along the esplanade. Of course, the Mallards want to introduce ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack to the joys of the Public Garden, but the ducklings can’t fly yet, so Mrs. Mallard decides to walk with her family through town.  Their first obstacle is crossing a busy highway.  As horns honk, Mrs. Mallard Quaaacks back, making so much noise, that the police come running.  With the help of the police, the ducks tour the city, crossing the highway, walking down Mount Vernon street, through Beacon Hill, and into the Public Gardens where they decided to live happily ever after, eating peanuts thrown from the swan boats.  Every year there’s a duckling day parade every year on Mother’s Day.  Even if you’re not in Boston on Mother’s Day, you can still visit Mrs. Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack waddling their way through the gardens. Make Way for Ducklings  is an enjoyable classic, perfect for reading aloud as you’re planning your trip to...

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Time of Wonder

Time of Wonder

 Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey was first published in 1957 and won the Caldecott Medal in 1958.  Told from the perspective of  a family living on an island in Penobscot Bay, it describes what a summer would be like with foggy mornings, boats going by, days on the beach, seals and porpoises and even an unexpected hurricane. While the specific cruise schooners mentioned may no longer be available, you can still go sailing in Buck’s Harbor and visit the lighthouse on Pumpkin Island. [all-items][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&asin=...

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