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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: Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh-Canada with children

Review: Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh-Canada with children

Did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh was based on a real bear?  At the White River train station in Ontario, Canada, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian with the Canadian Army on his way to base bought a bear cub and named her Winnipeg. In Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, we learn all about A.A. Milne’s inspiration for Winnie-ther-Pooh. In Winnipeg, Winnie quickly became the camp mascot and was given free reign at the camp, sleeping under Harry’s cot every night and following him as he made his rounds tending the horses and other military animals.  As World War I advanced, Harry and his platoon were transferred to England and of course Winnie went with them, sailing across the Atlantic, and proving to be a much better sailor than Harry! Winnie quickly settled in at camp in England, watching the soldiers practice marching and continuing to sleep under Harry’s cot.  When Harry discovered he was going to be sent to France, he knew he couldn’t take Winnie to a battlefield, but what to do with a bear? This was a great story about the inspiration behind Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin’s fateful visit to the London Zoo.  I always enjoy learning about the sources of inspiration behind beloved stories and Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh is no exception. While you can no longer feed bears at the London Zoo, you can still see a statue of Winnie and Harry.  You can also visit the original Edward bear (who changed his name to Winnie the Pooh) along with  Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger at the New York Public...

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Review: The Case that Time Forgot-London with children

Review: The Case that Time Forgot-London with children

We stumbled upon this great series while we were on vacation and my boys have been devouring this audiobook as fast as we can listen, wanting to play them even for short errands across town.  We have found that audiobooks, particularly mysteries, are great at creating focus in kids who otherwise seem to have very short attention spans.  Challenging everyone in the car to figure out the mystery as a team compels them to actually listen closely to the whole story, ask questions and pose hypotheses.  It can be a great family collaboration, sibling strife preventer, and productive training device.  We can literally get two continuous hours of focus (aka “relative peace”) on family road trips listening to mystery audiobooks. The Case That Time Forgot (Sherlock Files) by Tracy Barrett is the third in the series about Xena and Xander Holmes, the great-great-great grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes who have inherited his book of unsolved cases and are determined to crack the mysteries that defeated Sherlock Holmes.  Despite the fact that the crime involved happened more than 100 years earlier, Xena and Xander are determined to put together the clues with a little help from modern technology and the SPFD (Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives).  Much to their frustration, they aren’t allowed to solve mysteries full time, but have to juggle school, social conflicts, homework, and parents! The Case That Time Forgot is an enjoyable read, with enough allusions to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to bring back fond memories for a grownup.  It’s also a great source of inspiration for places to visit in London.  You’d of course want to visit The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street, and the story takes you to a combination of indoor and outside sites such as the Clockmakers’ Museum at Guildhall, Cleopatra’s Needle, The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, and Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster.  It would be a lot of fun to try and solve some of the clues and visit the sites as the story develops, introducing children to history as well as a scavenger...

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Katie and the Sunflowers

Katie and the Sunflowers

Katie and the Sunflowers written by James Mayhew is another book in his wonderful series of Katie books where Katie jumps in and out of famous paintings having adventures with the subjects and sometimes bringing them into her world with mixed and amusing results. In Katie and the Sunflowers, Katie wants some of the sunflower seeds from Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for her garden.  She reaches for a flower, bumping the vase and knocking it and the flowers out of the picture and onto the museum floor.  As she tries to clean up the mess, she hears giggling.  Turning around, she discovers that the giggles are coming from the three girls in Paul Gauguin’s Breton Girls Dancing.  One of the Breton Girls offers to help Katie if she can bring her dog Zazou along. The two girls climb back into the museum and predictably, Zazou is more of a hindrance than a help.  He grabs the sunflowers and runs into Café Terrace at Night, sending everything flying before escaping back into the museum chased by the girls and an angry waiter.  With the help of the fruit from Paul Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples and Oranges, they escape from the angry waiter to find Zazou barking at the red dog in Gauguin’s Tahitian Pastorals.  After a quick swim in Tahiti, Zazou redeems himself by discovering buried treasure on the beach and Katie excitedly pockets a handful of coins.  Back in the museum, the girls realize they don’t know how to get back to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.  Fortunately, Zazou has left a trail of sunflower seeds for them to follow.  As the girls follow the trail of sunflower seeds on the museum floor, they put back everything as they found it and give the treasure to the waiter to pay for Zazou’s destruction at the café. Katie’s Grandma is just starting to wake up by the time everything is set to rights, never noticing that anything unusual has occurred. My son loves the Katie books.  As we started this one, he looked at me and said, “Mom, all of the Katie books are blog books.”  He thinks it’s cool that there are pictures of real paintings in the illustrations, though he does say he couldn’t paint that well and insisted that they must have had a computer to...

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