1. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear is a phenomenal historical fiction picture book based on the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh.
Harry Colebourn was a veterinarian from Winnipeg on his way to take care of animals during World War I. On the train platform he saw a man with a baby bear cub and offered him $20 for it. Winnie proves to be a remarkable member of the army. She even makes the journey to England with Harry and the other soldiers. When the time comes to go fight, Harry takes Winnie to the zoo, where she will be out of harms way and properly cared for.
The story is framed within a bedtime story, told by Lindsay Mattick, Harry Colebourn’s granddaughter to her son Cole.
Near the end of the story we are introduced to the real life Christopher Robin. A young boy who visits the zoo and falls in love with Winnie.
The last pages of the book are filled with artifacts, including photographs of Harry Colebourn and Winnie together. It’s amazing to see how these pieces from history influenced the illustrations and the story.
Click here to purchase a copy of Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear (affiliate link).
2. Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen is one of the funniest picture books I read this year. A tiny, innocent looking fish is swimming about minding his own business when a hungry octopus decides he would make a tasty treat. But not everything is as it seems in this hilarious book, with a slightly dark but amusing humor.
Click here to purchase a copy of Poor Little Guy (affiliate link).
3. They All Saw a Cat (cat not included) by Brendan Wenzel begins, “The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws.” It continues to explore how different animals perceive the same cat. Our perception is shaped by our experience and who we are. Each illustration is as equally transfixing as the next. It’s too difficult to select just one favorite.
I love this book because it invites a conversation about how we respond to the same thing in different ways. It can begin with something as seemingly simple as a cat but be broadened to consider more abstract situations in life.
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4. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston is truly a celebration of reading and imagination. A young girl and boy embark on a journey to unlock not only the magic of imagination but a love of reading. The illustrations of this beautiful picture book sprinkle in segments from lullabies, fairy tales and other well known stories. This is a captivating and lovely book.
Click here to purchase a copy of A Child of Books (affiliate link).
5. And last but in no way least Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi. The main character is a young girl named Kikko. Her father is on his way to grandma’s house, but he’s left behind the pie he was supposed to take. Kikko offers to try to catch up to him, but accidentally stumbles and smashed the pie. She sees him up ahead and follows him through the woods to an unfamiliar house. She soon realizes that she’s been following a bear all along!
A stunned Kikko peers though the window of the house, trying to make sense of what she is seeing when a lamb invites her in to the tea party. Kikko has somehow entered a fantastical world filled with talking animals and magic. At the tea party, the animals help her piece together a new, special pie for her grandma. The ending of the book is ambiguous but delightful! Will the pie be the original smashed pie or this magical version?
Click here to purchase a copy of Tea Party in the Woods (affiliate link).